Alstom has taken a 40 per cent equity share in Scottish renewable energy company AWS Ocean Energy, representing Alstom’s entry in to the wave energy market. Alstom will be a shareholder alongside Shell Technology Ventures Fund 1 and Scottish Investment Bank, who continue their support of AWS.
The move complements the existing activities of Alstom’s Ocean Energy business in Nantes, France, where the company is developing its one megawatt commercial-scale tidal turbine prototype, the BELUGA 9. Wave energy, like tidal energy, is CO2-free and, according to Alstom, has the greatest potential of all existing marine technologies with a worldwide resource estimated between 200 and 300 GW, about six times the installed capacity of Australia’s electrical grid.
“As we transition to a carbon- constrained economy, predictable renewable solutions such as wave and tidal will play an increasingly important role in electricity supply,” Alstom Australia and New Zealand president, Chris Raine said.
“This technology has some great potential for Australia. According to the CSIRO, if just 10 per cent of the wave energy from Australia’s southern coastline was harnessed, it would be enough to meet half of our current energy needs,” he said.
Created in 2004, AWS Ocean Energy is currently focusing on the development and delivery of its AWS-III wave energy converter, a floating device with a rated power output of 2.5 MW.
Support from the Scottish Enterprise-administered WATERS fund (Wave and Tidal Energy: Research, Development and Demonstration Support) enabled a 1:9 scale model of the AWS-III to be tested in Loch Ness in 2010.
The UK Government is aiming to raise the share of electricity generated from renewables from 6.7 per cent today to around 30 per cent by 2020. Wave and tidal energy together has the potential to meet up to 20 per cent of the UK’s current electricity demand, representing 30-50 GW installed capacity, with the UK enjoying around 50 per cent of Europe’s total tidal energy resource.