Aquatera Insight Being Used Around Pacific Rim

June 1st 2009

Experience gained in the seas around Orkney is guiding the development of wave energy generation around the Pacific coast.

Stromness-based consultancy Aquatera is working with local development organisations and research institutes in Taiwan, Oregon and Chile, three areas with rich marine energy reserves.

The company is helping them benefit from the deployment of marine renewables, in ways that ensure local development opportunities and minimise environmental impact.

"International work is always both challenging and exciting," said managing director Gareth Davies. "Our involvement reflects the expertise we've accrued on wave and tidal projects in Orkney and the Pentland Firth and our desire to share that experience with people in other parts of the world."

International assignments in the oil and gas and maritime sectors have taken the Aquatera team worldwide – from Russia to Romania, from the Faroes to the Falklands, from the Caspian to Canada, and from SE Asia to Africa.

In the USA, Aquatera is advising the Oregon Wave Energy Trust (OWET), which is seeking to have 500MW of energy generated from the seas by 2025 – sufficient for 200,000 homes.

"We're examining the possible longer term cumulative impacts from wave energy projects along the coast of Oregon, and developing a framework for managing them," said Dr Davies.

"The state has superb resources and big ambitions to lead the way in wave energy generation in the US. But Oregon also has a vibrant group of coastal communities, sustained by fisheries and tourism, and a rich natural environment with a wealth of wildlife."

OWET has asked Aquatera, who are collaborating with Parametrix, Powertech and Orkney-based EMEC on the project, to find the right balance between development and protection, ensuring that enduring sustainable management solutions are found.

On the other side of the Pacific, in Taiwan, Aquatera is working alongside the local Industrial Technology Research Institute to advise the government on the best way to harness wave energy from Taiwanese waters.

"The waters are calmer than those off Orkney, but they do experience periodic typhoons," said Dr Davies.

"Our role is to identify the most suitable wave technology and best sites for deployment. Subsequently we anticipate overseeing its delivery, installation and operation."

Aquatera's Taiwanese colleagues travelled to Orkney at the start of the project and were delighted to visit the "spiritual home of marine energy" – and to see how renewable have been successfully integrated into the local community.

Community involvement also lies at the heart of the company's work in Chile.

During a visit to Santiago, Dr Davies heard about a group of local scientists and engineers who were promoting the potential for exploiting their country's vast marine energy resources.

Recognising the similarities with OREF, he caught the next plane south to Tierra del Fuego and met up with Sergio Andrade, president of the local renewables group ENERMAR.

Through ongoing dialogue and collaboration it is hoped that a flourishing partnership can be established between these two communities at either end of the globe.