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Wave-energy firm Aquamarine Power raises £10 million

Aquamarine's Oyster Device being lowered into the water at EMEC in preparation for grid connectionWave energy developer Aquamarine Power announced today that it’s successfully closed its first round of fundraising with £10 million from investors in the UK and Ireland.

“Raising substantial funds in these exceptionally difficult market conditions is an incredible achievement for Aquamarine,” said CEO Martin McAdam. “It proves that there is considerable investor appetite for renewable energy companies.”

Greenbang first profiled Aquamarine Power in its “UK Clean Tech Start -up Company Index 2008.”

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of last month’s new that a full-scale demonstrator of Aquamarine’s Oyster wave energy converter was successfully deployed at its testing berth at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, both on schedule and within forecast costs.  Work is currently ongoing to connect Oyster to sub-sea pipelines which will deliver high-pressure fresh water to an onshore turbine.

The installation is scheduled to begin generating power to enable full-scale offshore testing starting later this year. Complete tests are expected to take up to two years.

Proceeds from this fundraising round will be used to finance the testing programme, as well as for general working capital purposes. Aquamarine eventually aims to raise around £50 million to take Oyster through to commercialisation. The firm plans to generate the financing in stages, with a second round of fundraising due to commence shortly.

Founded in 2005, Aquamarine expects to have a fully commissioned, commercially available wave farm in place by 2014.

According to the firm, the key strength of Oyster is the simplicity of its design. There are minimal moving parts and all electrical components are onshore, making it robust enough to withstand the rigours of Scotland’s harsh seas.  The device is also designed for deployment near shore in depths of around 10 to 12 metres, which means it’s easy to access and will also capture power efficiently in the smallest of seas.

A commercial farm of just 20 devices — 15 megawatts — could provide clean renewable energy for a town of 9,000 homes, according to Aquamarine. The firm has already demonstrated that Oyster can produce electricity on a commercial scale during onshore testing at the New and Renewable Energy Centre near Newcastle.

“There will be winners and losers along the way as technologies compete for market share and Oyster has all the right ingredients to be one of the winners — an amazing piece of UK engineering which is one of the best wave devices out there,” McAdam said.

Aquamarine currently has an agreement in place with Airtricity, the renewable energy division of Scottish and Southern Energy, to develop up to 1,000 megawatts of marine energy sites by 2020 using Oyster technology.

Estimates indicate that 21.5 gigawatts of wave and tidal energy could be generated from Scottish waters, which would be enough to meet around half of Scotland’s energy demands. Scotland also accounts for 25 per cent of Europe’s tidal resource and 10 per cent of Europe’s wave resource. It has significant advantages over other methods of renewable energy such as wind and solar power, as it is more predictable.

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