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Wave energy firm global investment

A wave energy company is to more than double its workforce following a multi-million pound investment by a global energy firm.

Inverness-based AWS Ocean Energy is to create 15 new research and development posts to accelerate the production of its AWS-III wave-power generator following the acquisition of a 40% stake in the company by French giant Alstom.

Alstom specialises in power generation, power transmission and rail infrastructure, employing 93,500 people in around 100 countries with sales of over £18bn in 2010/11.

The total price of the stake, Alstom`s first-ever investment in wave energy, is being kept under wraps.

An AWS spokesman, however, confirmed it is a multi-million pound deal which will allow it to more than double its workforce from the existing staff levels of 14.

The announcement was made this evening at Edinburgh Castle at an event hosted by First Minister Alex Salmond.

The AWS-III system is a 12-sided floating device which sits on the surface of the ocean and uses the action of the waves to produce electricity.

The Scottish Government, through Scottish Enterprise, has provided funding support to AWS in recent years, with a £1.4M grant to support testing of the AWS-III in Loch Ness and the Cromarty Firth, and a £2M joint investment from the Scottish Investment Bank’s co-investment fund and Shell Technology Ventures in early 2010.

AWS Ocean Energy chief executive Simon Grey called Alstom’s investment “a significant boost for AWS Ocean Energy and Scotland’s wave energy sector as a whole”.

He said: “Alstom’s investment provides us with the stability we need in order to attract top talent to work for us and so today we are launching a recruitment campaign to expand our engineering team at Inverness.”

Philippe Cochet, senior vice-president of hydro and wind for Alstom, said: “Having reviewed many different technologies, and undertaken further detailed analysis with the most promising, we are absolutely confident that AWS-III is a technology that perfectly complements our existing ocean activities.”

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