Making Waves in Renewable Energy: The AWS Wave Swing III


Alstom and SSE Renewables have signed a new joint venture agreement to co-develop the world’s largest wave farm in the Costa Head Wave Project, off the coast of Orkney, Scotland. The farm will deliver up to 200 Megawatts of renewable energy utilizing AWS Ocean Energy Ltd’s (AWS) Archimedes Wave Swing III technology (AWS-III).

AWS is based in Inverness, Scotland, and the company’s stated purpose is to develop and deliver the technology of choice for utility scale generation of offshore wave power.

AWS-III is described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2011/0185721, entitled “Energy Conversion Device” (‘721 Application) and directed to an array of interconnected compressible cells which convert wave energy into pneumatic energy by moving air between the cells.  Turbines within the device convert the moving air into electricity.

Figure 1 of the ‘721 Application illustrates the wave energy device.  The device has twelve interconnected cells (20) arranged in a ring.  The cells are connected to a ring-like air duct (not shown) and have a diaphragm (30) on their outer edge. 
The diaphragm moves relative to the cell when wave action (40, 50) presses against the movable diaphragm surface.  The movement of the diaphragm causes air within the cells to be pumped into and out of the air duct and between the cells.  The moving air then spins a turbine, which produces electricity.

Each multi-cell array can produce up to 2.5 megawatts of electricity.  Once in place, the devices are moored to the sea floor in depths ranging from 60 – 150 meters.  Each device will be connected to the local utility grid from an offshore substation via a high voltage link.

According to a joint press release, a 1:9 scale model of the AWS-III was deployed in Loch Ness, Scotland in 2010.  Full scale component testing will commence in 2012 and a full scale prototype is planned for deployment in 2014.

In the press release, Simon Grey, Chief Executive at AWS stated:

The selection of the AWS-III system for this exciting and ground-breaking project is a significant endorsement of our technology and team.  We firmly believe that the AWS-III will become the established choice for utility scale offshore wave power generation.  We look forward to working with Alstom and SSE to deliver Costa Head.

AWS and Alstom predict there is a potential worldwide market for renewable wave energy in the 200 to 300 gigawatt range. If successful, this 200 megawatt wave farm will be a large step in making that prediction a reality.

David Gibbs is a contributor to Green Patent Blog.  David is currently in his third and final year at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.  He received his undergraduate degree in Geology from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.