Bristol-based firm Embley Energy will use the cash to refine the prototype of its wave-energy converter Sperboy and demonstrate whether it can compete with fossil fuels and other renewable energy sources.

Embley bosses say Sperboy, a specially-designed buoy, will deliver a cheaper alternative to other marine energy devices because of its long lifespan and low maintenance requirements.

Michael Burrett of Embley Energy said: “The use of concrete for the main vessel will considerably increase the working life of the wave-energy converter and our design should deliver energy at a cost to compete with traditional forms of energy production.

“The support we have received from the Carbon Trust not only moves our project forward but also brings the realisation of a large-scale commercial marine energy resource ever nearer.”

A two-year testing programme will now be carried out on the device, which works by displacing air from a chamber inside when the buoy moves on waves.

The movement of air drives turbine generators on top of the buoy, which produce electricity.

If the prototype is successful, the company hopes commercial production of Sperboy devices will begin by 2015.

The grant follows research published by the Carbon Trust last year predicting that marine energy could provide 20% of the UK’s electricity needs.

Garry Staunton, Head of Low Carbon Research at the Carbon Trust, said: “Marine energy has the potential to provide a large proportion of the UK’s electricity needs.

“Embley Energy’s innovative use of advanced concrete construction methods is particularly exciting as it has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of wave-generated electricity.”

Kate Martin

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