Marine energy: Pelamis wave energy

The iconic red ‘sea-snake’ wave energy converter has gained international recognition since Dr Yemm founded Pelamis Wave Power in Edinburgh in 1998.

First Minister Alex Salmond presented Dr Yemm, now Commercial Director of Pelamis, with the second annual Saltire Prize Medal at the Scottish Renewables annual conference dinner in Edinburgh.

The annual award – presented under the auspices of Scotland’s £10 million Saltire Prize marine energy challenge – aims to recognise outstanding contributions by individuals and groups to the development of wave and/or tidal power generation.

Mr Salmond also announced that Terry Garcia, Executive Vice President (Mission Programs) National Geographic Society has agreed to chair the Saltire Prize Challenge Committee and Neil Kermode, Managing Director of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) will be Deputy Chair.

The First Minister said:

"I am delighted to present Richard Yemm with the Saltire Prize Medal, an accolade which he richly deserves for his tireless commitment to the development of wave energy generation.

"Since forming the initial concept of the Pelamis wave energy converter and establishing the company in 1998, Richard has driven forward the technical and commercial development of Pelamis Wave Power, which now boasts major international utilities E.ON, ScottishPower and Vattenfall among its customers.

"He has made a huge contribution to the wider wave energy and renewables sector through his active engagement across industry and government.vRichard’s drive, ambition and vision should be an inspiration to many young people who are considering careers in engineering, science and the energy industry. I congratulate him on receiving this award."

Accepting the Medal, Dr Yemm commented:

"It is a huge honour to be presented with this prestigious award, which I am delighted to accept on behalf of all who have worked tirelessly alongside me over the years to deliver on this once in a generation opportunity for Scottish engineering and industry.

"This is an individual award, but wherever you take the time to look across this exciting new sector you can see exceptional individuals working together as one team to deliver on the ‘win-win’ of clean energy and economic development opportunity that marine energy represents. Our sector has a unique cohesiveness forged by experience that working together gives us – and an output much greater than the sum of the parts.

"Those ‘parts’ range from the inspirational team at Pelamis, across other equally committed technology developers and our own industry association in Scottish Renewables, through our utility customers and partners (who have been) willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved early. The other key ‘parts’ have been a parliament and administration that has been consistently prepared to stick its neck out to deliver the full suite of policy, regulatory and funding initiatives, including of course the Saltire Prize, that will underpin this Scottish success story."

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said:

"Richard Yemm will undoubtedly be looked upon as one of the most influential people to the development of Scotland’s marine industry; from the drawing board to grid connected devices and making important steps to commercial scale projects. While studying for a PhD at the University of Edinburgh under the former Saltire Prize medallist, Prof Stephen Salter, he got the first idea of the Pelamis wave energy converter and established Pelamis Wave Power in 1998.

"Since then he has led his team to reach a number of milestones in the development of the technology where, among many achievements, Pelamis secured the first export order for a wave energy device in Scotland. It is because of all these achievements Richard is a well deserved recipient of the Saltire Prize Medal."

Confirming that new chairmanship of the Challenge Committee, the First Minister added:

"The £10m Saltire Prize is Scotland’s marine energy challenge to the world. I am extremely grateful to Terry and the National Geographic Society – one of the world’s largest scientific and educational charities – for the expertise and support they have provided in the development of this exciting competition. I am delighted that Terry has now agreed to Chair the Saltire Prize Challenge Committee at this important time – further enhancing our co-operation with a leading international partner.

"I’m also very pleased that Neil Kermode has agreed to serve as Deputy Chair, given the successful leadership he has shown at the European Marine Energy Centre and the wealth of experience he can bring to the Challenge Committee. I look forward to working with Terry and Neil as we chart the progress of wave and tidal energy pioneers in Scotland who are laying the foundations for a global industry capable of producing almost limitless supplies of clean, green energy."

Mr Garcia said:

"I am looking forward to working with the Scottish Government, the Challenge Committee members and the official applicants as we steer the Challenge to the next stage of its progress. The Saltire Prize Challenge is testament to the Scottish Government’s commitment to this sector and the companies in Scotland who are already leading the world in the development of commercial applications to harness wave and tidal energy. I am delighted that this innovation in Scotland has been rewarded with the presentation of this year’s Saltire Prize Medal to Richard Yemm, founder of Pelamis Wave Power which has grown to become a world-leading wave energy technology company."

Dr Yemm’s career in renewables began in the wind sector, with a novel design of wind turbine blade dampers that enabled extended manufacturing of blades in Glenrothes by overcoming an industry-wide vibration problem. While studying for a PhD at the University of Edinburgh under Professor Stephen Salter, Dr Yemm formed the first ideas of the Pelamis wave energy converter and in 1998 established Ocean Power Delivery (later changed to Pelamis Wave Power) to develop the technology.

Under his leadership, Pelamis achieved the first grid electricity from offshore waves, Scotland’s first export order for wave energy technology, and the UK’s only sales for wave energy converters to utilities E.ON and ScottishPower Renewables. Among his other roles, Dr Yemm has previously served as Chair of Scottish Renewables and on the Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland (FREDS).

The Saltire Prize which has attracted more than 150 registrations of interest from 31 countries and already three official entrants – will see £10 million awarded to the team that can demonstrate, in Scottish waters, a commercially-viable wave or tidal stream energy technology that achieves the greatest volume of electrical output over the set minimum hurdle of 100 GWh over a continuous two-year period using only sea power.