13th April 1977

The Edinburgh Duck is revealed

The Edinburgh Duck, also known as Salter’s Duck or the nodding duck, harnesses wave power to generate electricity. The ‘duck’ itself is a teardrop shaped buoy containing a gyroscope. It floats on top of the water and is bobbed up and down by the waves. This in turn agitates the internal generator to produce electricity.

Its alternative name – Salter’s Duck – honours its inventor, Stephen Salter, professor of engineering design at the University of Edinburgh, who devised the device at the height of the 1970s energy crisis.

Quiet launch

Although the ducks were invented in the first half of the 1970s, one of the earliest opportunities the general public would have had to learn about them was a report in the 13 April 1977 edition of the Aberdeen Press and Journal. “The chances of power being produced from waves off the Hebrides are increasing – and the day is getting nearer,” wrote Dick Mutch. “The ‘nodding ducks’ are so called because of the shape of a series of vanes on a central spine. The system would be anchored about five miles off shore and as the waves cause the ducks to nod, the motion would be converted into energy and fed ashore.”

The first ducks, scaled down for experimentation, were installed close to Inverness. However, although the system proved highly efficient, the end of the oil shortage meant it was no longer required and it didn’t go into mass production.



Other events that occured in April

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