Scotland’s renewables industry has been dealt a fresh blow with the news that wave energy firm Aquamarine Power is to “significantly downsize” its business.
The Edinburgh-based company said it had launched a consultation process with staff as part of a major restructuring which industry sources suggest could see a cut of more than 50% from the workforce of more than 50 people.
Just last month, another Edinburgh-based wave power firm – Pelamis – went into administration.
Aquamarine Power Chief Executive Officer John Malcolm – who was appointed just six weeks ago – said: “Following a strategic review, we have decided to significantly downsize the business.
“This will involve retaining a core operational and management team to run the business and continue maintaining our Oyster 800 wave machine at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.
“We have entered into a consultation process with all of our employees on how we will take forward the restructuring and redundancy programme.
“This is obviously taking place at a difficult time of year and we will be working very closely with every employee to achieve the best outcome for all.
“None of this is a reflection on the extraordinary dedication and hard work of every single member of the Aquamarine Power team; rather it is a consequence of the considerable financial, regulatory and technical challenges faced by the ocean energy sector as a whole.
“In a relatively short number of years our business has significantly advanced the goal of generating electricity from waves and this has relied wholly upon the bright ideas, innovation and talent of the people who work here.”
On his appointment in October 2014, Malcolm – a chartered engineer with a PhD from Heriot-Watt University – said: “I join Aquamarine Power at a very exciting moment in the company’s history.
“The company is well funded and has a very clear plan to progress the technology, including the development of an offshore power take-off which is being progressed via the pan-European WavePOD collaboration.”
Just 12 months ago, Aquamarine announced a major recruitment drive as part of major expansion plans.
However, Aquamarine’s main investors and co-owners – the Perth-based Scottish & Southern Energy utility giant and the ABB industrial services conglomerate – have deep pockets which may help the Scottish renewables minnow survive its financial tidal wave.
Last night, Aquamarine’s web site was still advertising recruitment opportunities for a structural engineer and a student placement for 2015. It is not known if these jobs will now be filled.