What is Salter's Duck?

The modern scientific investigation of wave energy was begun in the 1970s by Professor Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland in response to the 1970's Oil Crisis. Professor Stephen Apparatus and method for extracting wave energy is patent in U.S. Patent 3.928,967.

His invention became known as Salter's Duck or Nodding Duck, although it was officially referred to as the Edinburgh Duck. In small scale controlled tests, the Duck's curved cam-like body can stop 90% of wave motion and can convert 90% of that to electricity. The machine has never gone to sea, primarily because its complex hydraulic system is not well suited to incremental implementation, and the costs and risks of a full-scale test would be high. Most of the designs being tested currently absorb far less of the available wave power, and as a result their Mass to Power Ratios remain far away from the theoretical maximum.

According to sworn testimony before the House of Parliament, The UK Wave Energy program was shut down on March 19, 1982, in a closed meeting, the details of which remain secret. The members of the meeting were recruited largely from the nuclear and fossil fuels industries, and the wave programme manager, Clive Grove-Palmer, was excluded.

An analysis of Salter's Duck resulted in a miscalculation of the estimated cost of energy production by a factor of 10, an error which was only recently identified. Some wave power advocates believe that this error, combined with a general lack of enthusiasm for renewable energy in the 1980s (after oil prices fell), hindered the advancement of wave power technology.

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