State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


LIMPET: Land Installed Marine Powered Energy Transformer

I recently posted a blog piece on the ‘Deep Green’ project to generate electricity from deep ocean currents. Here is another of the ocean-based generation schemes: Land Installed Marine Powered Energy Transformer, or LIMPET.

(An unusually apt acronym. You know what a limpet is, right? Marine gastropod that clings to rocks along the shoreline.)

This is a very simple technology developed by the Scottish firm Voith Hydro Wavegen that uses waves to generate power, or rather, uses the air displaced by waves. It consists of a cement box set at the shoreline so that waves can rush into it from underneath. Air is pushed out of the box through the top, where it turns the turbines, and pulled back in as the water subsides.


Or the action demonstration:newwave

LIMPET was installed in 2000 on the Hebridean island of Islay of the western coast of Scotland. Wavegen reports, “The performance has been optimised for annual average wave intensities of between 15 and 25kW/m. The water column feeds a pair of counter-rotating turbines, each of which drives a 250kW generator, giving a nameplate rating of 500kW.”

In a press release today, they announced that the plant had passed the 50,000 generating hour milestone.

The Islay test plant has been providing electricity to the island community, and the company has larger scale commercial units in the works, including for the Basque Energy Board and on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland.


LIMPET has the benefit of being relatively inconspicuous, compared to other generating facilities. You wouldn’t know it was there until you were practically walking on top of it.



Follow Columbia Water Center on Twitter

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments