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Aquamarine Power wins European Commission award

Wave energy moved centre stage in Europe last week when wave energy developer Aquamarine Power won a major European Commission environment award. The European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik, gave the Edinburgh company first prize in the 'product' category for its Oyster wave energy technology.

Wave energy moved centre stage in Europe last week when wave energy developer Aquamarine Power won a major European Commission environment award

The company is currently commissioning its Oyster 800 device at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. It received the prize at a ceremony held at the Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels. The awards were one of the highlights of Green Week, the European Commission's annual conference on environment policy.

Oyster is a buoyant, hinged flap that is attached to the seabed. The hinged flap, which is almost entirely underwater, pitches backwards and forwards in the nearshore waves. The movement of the flap drives two hydraulic pistons, which push high-pressure water onshore via a subsea pipeline to drive a conventional hydroelectric turbine. By locating Oyster near the shore, the device naturally avoids the massive storm forces that other devices are exposed to in the open ocean. And Oyster’s innovative design means it ducks under the largest waves giving it enhanced survivability.

The benefit of this technology is that is takes advantage of the world's vast untapped wave energy resource to produce clean sustainable energy, providing the potential to replace a significant portion of the current carbon intensive electricity generation. Oyster's key selling points of simplicity, survivability and shore-based electricity generation as well as its potential application for reverse osmosis desalination put this innovative and unique technology at the leading edge of wave energy innovation.

The first full-scale 315kW Oyster was installed and grid-connected in November 2009 in Orkney, Scotland.

Martin McAdam, Chief Executive Officer of Aquamarine Power, said: "Marine energy has a massive role to play in helping Europe meets its challenging carbon reduction targets. This award recognises the potential that innovative technologies such as Oyster have, not just in moving to a green energy future, but also in providing new growth areas for European economies and new opportunities for coastal communities reliant on declining natural resources.

"This award is a great honour for Aquamarine Power and we would like to thank the European Commission, the Commissioner for the Environment and the judging panel for this recognition. This award is for the brilliant, hard-working and dedicated team at Aquamarine Power and our shareholders, especially ABB, SSE and the Scottish Government, who continue to support the creation of a new marine energy industry."

The European Business Awards for the Environment are granted to companies that successfully combine innovation, competitiveness and outstanding environmental performance. Aquamarine Power was named overall winner in the 'Product' category, which recognises companies that have developed a new product or related service that makes an outstanding contribution to sustainable development.

Aquamarine Power was one of five winners selected from a record 156 entrants, originating from 24 European Member States and candidate countries. Aquamarine Power was one of 14 finalists who hailed from Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Slovakia, Finland and the United Kingdom.

Applicants to the awards scheme first competed at national level before being selected to compete at European level, meaning that companies awarded the European prize are 'the best of the best'; the most far-sighted, responsible and innovative across Europe.

Earlier this year, Aquamarine Power was also named one of UK's best companies to work for in the Sunday Times Best Companies Awards.

On announcing the award, European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik said:
"Resource efficiency is the key to a competitive, sustainable Europe. These companies show that it is not only possible but also desirable to combine a healthy bottom line with environmental protection. They are green growth in action and I applaud them."

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