Young entrepreneur making waves in renewable power
Samuel Etherington, Founder, Aqua Power Technologies
Samuel Etherington of Aqua Power Technologies
There aren’t many people who can lay claim to developing an innovative renewable energy technology, but for Sam Etherington, the young pioneer behind Aqua Power Technologies, using his engineering expertise to contribute to the UK’s future energy mix has been a longstanding passion.
Sam’s design is unique as it can absorb wave energy from any axis, unlike the single-axes technologies currently on the market.
His interest was first cultivated through the family business, working alongside his father, Stuart Etherington, with stalwarts of British industry including Rolls Royce and BAE. Growing up, Sam was determined to carry on his mission in higher education which led him to study Industrial Design at Brunel University.
Seeing his University friends heading straight into high paying jobs with motor manufacturers and in motorsports, Sam decided to take a different path. He combined his passion for engineering with a keen interest in kitesurfing, giving him a deeper understanding of the multi-directional movement of waves which informed his current design. Recognising that the UK currently faces an annual shortfall of 81,000 people with engineering skills, Sam is passionate to create a platform showcasing to other young people how their interest in science and engineering can be combined with starting up their own business.
It was for this reason Sam entered his business idea into the Shell LiveWIRE Youth Enterprise programme which has seen him winning the Shell LiveWIRE Future Impact Award and £5,000 to accelerate his scale up plans as well as helping him to secure a patent for his technology.
In its formative months Aqua Power received a £1,000 start-up grant from the Shell LiveWIRE programme, instrumental in helping Sam acquire data to set the geometry of the design. His wave technology is projected to be cheaper than conventional wave power, delivering energy at a cost of 10-12p per kilowatt-hour (kWh), compared to 15-39p per kWh.
The biggest focus for Sam over the coming months will be to take his technology to scale, from a prototype in a tank to a fully functioning wave power farm in the sea generating energy by 2016. As a Shell LiveWIRE winner Sam will have access to mentoring from business experts in Shell, helping him to convert his award winning IP into a commercially viable business.
Looking forward Sam has his eyes set on expanding into Europe and Asia with the aim to make his hometown a UK hub of renewable energy technologies, inspiring the next generation of young engineers and entrepreneurs – the problem solvers of the future. He is currently in initial discussions with Scottish Island communities interested in bringing the technology to their region, a step on the way to realising his vision of tapping into the UK low-carbon export market estimated to be worth £120 billion annually*.
Samuel Etherington won a Grand Ideas Award in August 2014, was a finalist for the 2014 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and was awarded the 2014 Future Impact Award.