Jul 25 2014

Saltire Prize

Published by under Student blog entries

After my initial post on the great strides Scotland has made to promote renewable wave and tidal energy, I thought it might be prudent to explain in greater detail the Saltire Prize.  Just to clear up any confusion on how the timeline is supposed to work — the application deadline is January 2015, which means that the companies still have a chance to fine-tune their technologies.  At this point, the company then has until June 2017 to achieve their goal of 100 gigawatt hours in a continuous two year period to be eligible for the prize.  At this time there are five companies in the running and they are all using separate devices, harnessing both waves and the tide.  These companies and their respective technologies will be explained below:


Aquamarine Power – The Oyster

According to their website, Aquamarine Power has been fully permitted to install 40-50 Oyster devices off the coast of the Isle of Lewis.  These devices have the potential to power 30,000 homes.  The devices will be constructed about 0.5 km from shore in 10-15 meter deep waters and will run about 3 km worth of the coast.  Although this may be considered close to the shore this is a fairly small amount of space to take up, especially considering the amounts of benefits that come with any renewable, clean energy.  The Oyster device uses flaps to power two hydraulic pistons that shoot high energy water to a hydroelectric power plant.  This energy is captured the same way any standard hydroelectric turbine would work, so converting the energy into electricity does not pose any major challenges.


The Oyster (photo: Aquamarine Power)


MeyGen – The AR1000 and HS1000

MeyGen has two possible technologies to choose from, both of which are still under development and have not been constructed in their final phases yet.  Presumably, both of these would be installed in the sound of Pentland Firth.  MeyGen’s website reports that the currents in this area max out at about 5 meters per second.  Both devices are similar to wind turbines, albeit in far harsher conditions.  The energy is captured with a generator within the turbine head and converted to electricity which is transported via cable to an onshore grid.  An added benefit of running underwater is there should be no concern on how the viewshed is affected.


Turbine schematic (photo: MeyGen)


Pelamis Wave Power – The Pelamis

Pelamis will be using wave energy and have set their sights at Farr Point for installation of their wave farm.  Per their website they will be installing up to 10 Pelamis devices in their bid for top performers in the Saltire competition.  Although the exact location is still being determined in the permitting process, the wave farm would be located around 5-12 km off the shore and take up about 2-3 square kilometers.  The Pelamis system is comprised of 5 connected tubes that face in the direction of the waves.  The up and down movement created by the waves allows specialized hydraulic power systems to create energy which is carried to the shore via underwater cables.


Pelamis operation (photo: Pelamis Wave Power)


ScottishPower Renewables – The HS1000

ScottishPower will be using tidal energy to achieve their goals and are using the same underwater turbine model that Meygen has access to with the HS1000.  Per their website, ScottishPower is still at the preliminary stages of receiving permits to install their turbines at the Ness of Duncansby in the Pentland Firth.

This video sums ups very nicely how the HS1000 functions:
HS1000 in action


West Islay Tidal – Siemens MCT SeaGen S and Alstom TGL OR BlueTec

This is the latest entrant into the Saltire Prize runnings and they will also be running tidal devices.  They are currently testing the Siemens MCT SeaGen S and the Alstom TGL which would sit on the ocean bed similar to the previous tide turbines.  They are, however, considering a moored device that has the turbines underneath in order to cut down on costs.  This device would allow the turbines to be accessed much easier for maintenance and the cables to be run above water to get to the on shore power grid.  Once the device has been chosen installation will take place off the coast of Islay and will be set up similar to the previous entrants.

Moored turbine



BlueTEC Moored Device with Siemens Turbines – Installed (photo: West Islay Tidal)

Moor maintenance

BlueTEC Moored Device with Siemens Turbines – Maintenance (photo: West Islay Tidal)


It is very interesting to see all these different technologies being developed.  It is hard to think of a better example for the competitiveness of the free market being put to use.  I am eagerly awaiting further developments on these companies and where their respective technologies take them!


Works Cited:

Aquamarine Power. Web. 25 July 2014. <http://www.aquamarinepower.com/>.

Meygen. Web. 25 July 2014. <http://www.meygen.com/>.

Pelamis Wave Power. Web. 25 July 2014. <http://www.pelamiswave.com/>.

Saltire Prize. Web. 25 July 2014. <http://www.saltireprize.com/>.

ScottishPower Renewables. Web. 25 July 2014.

West Islay Tidal. Web. 25 July 2014. <http://www.westislaytidal.com/index.html>.

Youtube. Andritz Hydro Hammerfest, Web. 25 July 2014.

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