Announcing the death of Professor Stephen Salter

It is with great sadness that we announce the recent passing of Professor Stephen Salter MBE FRSE, Emeritus Professor of Engineering Design.

Stephen died on Friday 23 February 2024, at the age of 85. Best known as the ‘Father of Wave Energy’ and specifically as the inventor of the Edinburgh Duck, a device to generate megawatt-scale electricity from ocean waves, Stephen had a fertile mind for solutions to technically challenging problems.

His inventions included the Dervish, a low-cost device for clearing land mines; and a roll-on-roll-off movable deck intended to extend the life of the Forth Road Bridge. Since the turn of the century, Stephen had been advocating marine cloud brightening – a proposed solar radiation management technique that would make clouds brighter – as a solution to global climate change, and was actively working on this until very recently.

Stephen had a significant impact on society and industry. He played a critical role in the success of the highly efficient Digital Displacement pump technology developed by Artemis (now owned by Danfoss).

In 2001 he argued that a circular combined current and wave basin was needed to accurately test wave and tidal energy devices at scale, which ultimately led to the successful proposal to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC) to build the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility.

The force-feedback controlled wave makers that Stephen originally developed were consequently commercialised and further developed by Edinburgh Designs, and now form the key infrastructure in many commercial, academic and leisure wave facilities around the world.

Stephen was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1991, awarded an MBE in 2004 and inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame in 2021.


Read more about Stephen's remarkable life and career in this obituary published by the Guardian.


Stephen’s funeral will be held on Tuesday 12 March 2024, starting at 1pm sharp at Mortonhall Crematorium (30B Howden Hall Rd, EH16 6TX). Afterwards, a reception will be held at Prestonfield House stables 2:30 - 5pm. All are welcome.

The funeral will also be live streamed and recorded, find full details at Stephen's tribute page where you can also leave your thoughts or make a charitable donation if you wish.


Professor Stephen Salter in front of a tree
Professor Stephen Salter (Photo © Martin McAdam)