NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Orkney Islands Council buys defunct Pelamis wave generator for £1

Pelamis wave generation device Image copyright Pelamis
Image caption Pelamis began testing the device off Orkney in 2010

Orkney Islands Council has bought a 180m (591ft) long redundant wave-power generator for a £1.

The 1,350-tonne Pelamis was sold by the Stromness-based European Marine Energy Centre (Emec) and is reported to come with a cash payment of about £47,000.

It was the first deep-water, floating wave energy machine to generate power into the national grid.

The company that built it, Pelamis Wave Power, went into administration in November 2014.

The £2m generator, installed in 2010, is currently tied up at Lyness.

Orkney Islands Council said the sum it had been given by Emec would cover the cost of scrapping it - but the authority said it would prefer to find another use for it.

Council leader James Stockan said the wave converter was one of the first of its kind and "symbolic of the industry".

Image copyright Emec
Image caption Orkney Islands Council believe the device could be used as a breakwater

Mr Stockan told BBC Radio Orkney it was possible the device could be put to good use somewhere.

"The cost to the council in the short term is relatively nothing until we get a chance to investigate if it can it be used as a breakwater anywhere - because we know it's going to be a number of years before we get to build any new pier structures and things," he said.

"If it had been towed away the critics would have said, you should have kept that for something.

"So we're actually saying we will keep it for a period, but if we can't find any really good purpose for it, we'll have to re-examine what we do with it then."

In 2012, the inventor of the Pelamis wave energy device, Dr Richard Yemm, won the annual Saltire Prize Medal for his outstanding contribution to the development of the marine renewables sector.

But the company was not able to cash in on its technology and all staff at Pelamis Wave Power were made redundant when the company went into administration.

Image copyright Pelamis

Emec managing director Neil Kermode said his centre had bought the generator after the company's demise because he did not want to see Pelamis simply "chopped up" for scrap.

"We touted it around for a couple of years, didn't really get anywhere and thought,OK it's not going anywhere, it's costing us money to keep it tied to the quayside at Lyness, we've got to get rid of it," he said.

However, Mr Kermode said towing the huge "sea snake" device away for scrap would be expensive and risky, so Emec agreed to sell the generator - along with the cash payment - to the council for £1 in the hope a use could be found for it.

"That was a world first that happened off the beach just round the corner from Stromness," he said.

"I still have a lingering hope that one day maybe we'll look back on it and think that's actually a really valuable artefact - that was something that was one of the keystones of the wave industry when we look back at it in years to come.

"It may be taken away, it may be scrapped at a later date, but personally if we can keep a hold of the thing here then there's a chance we can do something more with it."

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