Aquamarine Power is a global industry top seven marine energy company with head offices in Edinburgh, Scotland. Aquamarine Power’s goal is to identify the best marine energy sites and deliver large scale commercial marine energy projects using Aquamarine Power technology. Aquamarine Power is developing a diverse marine energy product portfolio.Its leading product is Oyster. The key strength of Oyster is the simplicity of its design. The Oyster system consists of a hinged flap connected to the seabed, there are minimal moving parts and all electrical components are onshore, making it robust enough to withstand the rigours of Scotland’s harsh seas. Designed for deployment near shore in depths of around 10 to 12 metres; which means it is easy to access and will also capture power efficiently in the smallest of seas. Each passing wave moves the flap which drives a hydraulic piston to deliver high pressure water to an onshore turbine which generates electricity.
Our story first started in 2001 when Professor Trevor Whittaker's research and development team at Queen's University, Belfast began to research flap-type wave power devices with a view to reducing the cost of energy. The R&D team's research ultimately led to the development of the Oyster wave energy device.
The innovative design of the Oyster wave energy converter attracted the interest of Allan Thomson, the retired founder of WaveGen, the UK's first ever wave power company. Allan went on to co-fund further R&D into the Oyster wave power device. In 2005, Allan set up Aquamarine Power to bring Oyster wave power technology to the commercial market.
In 2007, we secured an investment of £6.3 million from major utility SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) plus further investment of £1.5 million from venture capitalist Sigma Capital Group. This gave us the financial backing and additional industry expertise we needed to progress our Oyster wave energy technology from scale model wave tank testing to full-scale sea trials.
In 2008 we completed the fabrication of our first full-scale prototype Oyster wave energy converter and in 2009 we installed Oyster 1 at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney when it began producing power to the grid for the first time.
The following year, in November 2010, we welcomed ABB, one of the world's largest power and automation companies, as a major shareholder in the business.
In 2011 we installed our next-generation Oyster 800 wave energy device at EMEC. This device is undergoing operational testing and is producing electrical power.
Oyster 800 has now demonstrated at EMEC for over three years - including surviving some of the largest stroms this decade. Our team of engineers and researchers are already developing the next versions of our Oyster devices, while our commercial team is progressing with a portfolio of development sites where can install and operate future Oyster wave farms.
Aquamarine Power’s senior management team includes Chief Executive Officer, Martin McAdam, who founded renewable energy provider Airtricity’s US operations, which was subsequently sold to E.On for $1.2bn in 2007, Chief Operating Officer Matthias Haag, former General Manager at Shell WindEnergy and newly appointed Chief Finance Officer Richard Round, previously of Novera Energy PLC. The company was founded in 2005 by leading wave energy developer and Aquamarine Power director Allan Thomson. Aquamarine Power’s specialist technical advisors include wave energy pioneers Professor Trevor Whittaker, head of the award-winning wave power research group at Queen’s University, Belfast, and Professor Stephen Salter, creator of the ‘Salter Duck’. Aquamarine Power has won numerous national and international awards for innovation in the renewable energy sector including the Company Pioneer Award 2010 (EnergyOcean International) and the British Renewable Energy Award for best renewable energy product 2010 (Renewable Energy Association).
At Aquamarine Power we take our responsibilities very seriously. Whether it's to ourselves, other people or our planet. Our responsibilities are enshrined in our corporate values. These seven values are at the heart of who we are: integrity, nurture, safety, partnership, innovation, respect and enthusiasm, spelling out INSPIRE. We put our values into practice in everything we do. We continue to develop and, more importantly, to implement them as a team.
Working in partnership
Our Oyster wave energy technology is a clean, renewable energy solution but we understand that the nature of what we do also presents environmental challenges. At Aquamarine Power we are committed to minimising the impact our projects have on the environment, wildlife or people who use and enjoy our coastal areas. That's why we begin working closely with local communities, government bodies and stakeholder groups right from the start of our projects and will continue to do so to make sure our projects are developed responsibly and sustainably.
Minimising our environmental impact
In the day to day running of our business we work to minimise our impact on the environment by continually improving our energy efficiency and reducing our transport use and waste wherever we can. We set ourselves challenging performance targets so we are continually working to reduce our impact on the environment. Whether it's increasing the number of small every day actions we take, considering the environment in the design of Oyster or rigorously implementing our waste management plan.
Health and safety
In addition to our commitment to the environment, we are also fully committed to ensuring that we always provide a safe and healthy working environment for our colleagues, our partners, contractors and members of the public. Our rigorous health and safety policies and risk assessment procedures are designed to meet and surpass all statutory and legislative requirements. But more than that, we make health and safety a daily part of our working lives and encourage each other to keep health and safety in mind at all times.
Doing our bit
Being a force for good is a major part of our vision at Aquamarine Power. We realise that we are very lucky and try to give a little bit back as much as we can. In fact, barely a weekend goes by when one of our team isn't cycling from Glasgow to Edinburgh or running a marathon to raise money for charity! Of course it's not an entirely selfless deed as we have great fun taking part in with beach clean ups and sporting challenges. It's possibly less fun for those of our staff who give blood every four months as part of our initiative to encourage blood donation!
At Aquamarine Power we have seven values which are at the heart of who we are: integrity, nurture, safety, partnership, innovation, respect and enthusiasm, spelling out INSPIRE. We put our values into practice in everything we do. It's everyone's job here to contribute to how we live our values and we actively encourage everyone to participate in this process. It's this that gives us our strong sense of team and ambition.
We have created a business which our employees are proud of. We know, because we regularly ask them, anonymously. Every member of the team has a voice. We are a company that succeeds through driving innovation, challenging what has been done before. For us, commercial success must not come at the price of integrity.
Working in partnership
We value honesty, transparency and respect in all our relationships, whether it be with our colleagues, our partners and suppliers, or with our stakeholders. We choose to work with partners who hold the same values as us, with a particular focus on integrity and safety. We work with partners who, like us, believe in building strong lasting relationships.
Rewarding our success
Our style is to work hard but we also like to have fun. We are enthusiastic and passionate about our work but we also make sure we make the time to reward ourselves. Whether it's through our formal rewards like pay, bonuses and holiday allowances or the little extras like rewarding people on their Aquamarine Power anniversary or making sure we all get out of the office together as much as we can.
Our people are our company. That's why we want them to be the best they can possibly be. We value learning, sharing expertise, questioning, expanding our knowledge and skills. At Aquamarine Power we believe that fulfilled people means a successful company.
We are committed to the continuous development of our team, to inspiring individuals to achieve their personal and professional goals. We each have our own personal development plan to help us see where we want to be and how we're going to get there.
We've put in a place a range of initiatives to help develop our people. We run a graduate training programme, a management training programme and an IMechE-accredited development scheme to help our engineers achieve Chartered status.
But it's not all about formal training. We also encourage informal learning. Like sitting down with a colleague with a cup of tea to learn about their role, joining our public speaking club or attending our series of lunchtime talks.
Developing future employees
We're also committed to developing future employees. We sponsor both undergraduate and PhD students and run an undergraduate internship programme.
At Aquamarine Power we believe our success is dependent on our ability to innovate. It's through innovation that we'll learn to harness the energy of the oceans in the most efficient and cost-effective way. It's through innovation that we will overcome the challenges that lie in our path.
Innovation is at the heart of what we do at Aquamarine Power. We are pioneering a new industry and a new way of producing clean sustainable electricity. Our Oyster wave energy technology is an innovative clean energy solution. We're involved in partnerships with highly innovative organisations such as Queen's University Belfast, ABB and BAE Systems. We've won a host of awards for innovation in our technology, our business and our thinking.
But we can't afford to stop there. We continually need to ask ourselves can we do this another way, a better way? We think it's important to encourage innovative thinking throughout our business, and importantly, to reward it. That's why we run our Brain Wave innovation scheme. Through the scheme, we generate innovative ideas that break down the technical and financial barriers we face as a company.
Driving down costs
We encourage ourselves to look beyond our own departments and to look for more cost effective approaches in everything we do. It's our goal that the scheme will generate £1 million of costing savings for our business every year.
We may be a relatively small company but we like to think big - there is nothing that can't be done. It's this kind of creative thinking that puts us ahead of the rest.
Healthy working lives
We spend a large part of our lives at work. At Aquamarine Power we believe in achieving a balance across every aspect of our lives. We actively promote health at work (mind and body - and a little bit of soul) through a range of activities designed to suit everyone. After all, without our team we wouldn't be here.
We work hard at Aquamarine Power but we don't think life should be about sitting at a desk all day. We regularly organise events and activities which get us out of the office and keep our minds and bodies active. We have a running club, a knitting club and a walking lunch club. Many of our team are surfers and can often be found down at Pease Bay.
Doing our bit
We're also keen to do our bit and are regulars at the Cramond beach cleanup in Edinburgh and Bag the Bruck in Orkney. We're naturally an active bunch and up for a sporting challenge so it makes sense for us to do what we can for charity at the same time.
Small actions = big change
We also do a host of small things to make our daily lives a little bit easier like having a big kitchen, providing showers and toiletries for those of us who run at lunchtime, having a dry-cleaning service and a lunch service. We also run health promotion weeks and have regular visits from a massage therapist who turns one of our meeting rooms into a health spa for the day.
They're only small things but we like to think it's the little extras which have led to us being named one of the UK's Best Workplaces and also saw us win our Bronze and Silver Healthy Working Lives Award from the NHS Scotland.