Friday, 23 January 2015

January Sails

Every January, the Scottish National Gallery displays some Turner watercolours in a dimly lit room. The collection includes the impressive 'Bell Rock Lighthouse' (1819). As a painting, it is both beautiful and functional. It is beautiful because it is. It is functional because, as the commission for the front cover of a book about Stevenson's lighthouse, it shows dramatically the purpose of the lighthouse, its engineering challenges, and even a hint at how the design addresses the challenges.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

In a nutshell: Watershed Catapult report

I believe that in the future we will look back on the latest (27 November 2014) Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult report, 'Financing Solutions for Wave and Tidal Energy', as a watershed. It clearly captures the financing problems facing wave and tidal. Although it does not say so directly, it seems that the implied inescapable conclusion is: wave energy is not presently commercialisable, and tidal energy will follow unless the first round of tidal arrays meet their promises. The report is a watershed in that the views expressed are probably shared by decision makers in both industry and government; indeed the report aims to reflect these views; and it is likely that such views have been the main reason that 4 leading marine energy developers were shed (bad pun intended) by their supporters in late November 2014. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

Registration now open for Wave & Tidal 2015

Registration is now open for the 2015 RenewableUK Wave & Tidal conference and exhibition. Early bird discount ends 12 Jan.

I like this conference because it is intimate enough for people to speak their minds; it gets under the skin of real issues. The interesting stuff comes out in the question&answer and panel sessions. In the 2013 session, the troubles presently facing wave energy were already quite clear. Going back over my notes, I recalled that 'One panelist warned that pushing technology development too fast could lead to failure, and that one highly publicised failure could stall the entire marine renewables industry.' With Edinburgh at the epicentre of recent shocks to the industry, I'm hoping that this year's session will have some gritty discussions about actions that need to be taken to ensure the UK maintains its lead in wave and tidal development.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Body blow for wave power


'For many of us who have been employed in this sector and suffered its ups and down over the past few years, this inevitable conclusion has been all too obvious.'

Peter Arnold, having worked at 4 different wave power start-ups (C-wave, Orecon, Wavebob and AWS), is in a good position to comment on the systemic problems facing the UK wave power industry. In a recent blog post, he describes how the loss of the knowledge and experience accumulated by the workforce would come as a blow to wave power: