When I read about Scotland’s wave power in this week’s Newsweek I was excited but disappointed. Disappointed because the USA is not leading the initiative on wave power.
Pelamis on site at EMEC, the planned location for Scotland’s first wave farm.
Various systems are under development at present aimed at harnessing the enormous potential available for wave power off Scotland’s coasts. Pelamis Wave Power (previously Ocean Power Delivery) are an Edinburgh-based company whose Pelamis system has been tested off Orkney and Portugal. These devices are 150 metres (492 ft) long, 3.5 metres (11.5 ft) diameter floating tubes which capture the mechanical action of the waves. Future wave farm projects could involve an arrangement of interlinked 750 kW machines connected to shore by a subsea transmission cable.
Another approach is used by the LIMPET 500 (Land Installed Marine Power Energy Transformer) energy converter installed on the island of Islay by Wavegen Ltd. It is a shore-based unit and generates power when waves run up the beach, creating pressure inside an inclined oscillating water column. This in turn creates pneumatic power which drives twin 250 kW the generators. Islay LIMPET was opened in 2001 and is the world’s first commercial scale wave-energy device. The manufacturers are now developing a larger system in the Faroe Islands.
Funding for the UK’s first wave farm was announced by the Scottish Executive on 22 February 2007. It will be the world’s largest, with a capacity of 3 MW generated by four Pelamis machines at a cost of over 4 million pounds. The funding is part of a new £13 million funding package for marine power projects in Scotland that will also support developments to Aquamarine’s Oyster and Ocean Power Technology’s PowerBuoy wave systems, AWS Ocean Energy’s sub-sea wave devices, ScotRenewables’ 1.2 MW floating rotor device, Cleantechcom’s tidal surge plans for the Churchill barriers between various Orkney islands, the Open Hydro tidal ring turbines, and further developments to the Wavegen system proposed for Lewis as well as a further £2.5 million for the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) based in Orkney. This is a new Scottish Executive-backed research facility that has installed a wave testing system at Billia Croo on the Orkney mainland and a tidal power testing station on the nearby island of Eday. At the official opening of the Eday project the site was described as “the first of its kind in the world set up to provide developers of wave and tidal energy devices with a purpose-built performance testing facility.”
The Siadar Wave Energy Project was announced in 2009. This 4 MW system was planned by npower Renewables and Wavegen for a site 400 metres off the shore of Siadar Bay, inLewis. However in July 2011 holding company RWE announced they were withdrawing from the scheme, and Wavegen are seeking new partners. In early 2010 two areas were identified for substantial offshore wind development, in the Moray Firth basin and outer Firth of Forth. Shortly afterwards the Government earmarked eleven sites they expected to benefit from the construction of up to 8,000 offshore turbines by 2020. These included Campbeltown and Hunterston, four sites previously used for offshore oil fabrication atArdersier, Nigg Bay, Arnish and Kishorn and five east coast locations from Peterhead to Leith. In May 2010 the “Vagr Atferd P2″ Pelamis 750 kW system was launched for testing by EMEC. The device weighs 1500 tonnes and is 180 metres long.
Pelamis Wave Power
Pelamis Wave Power Ltd is the manufacturer of a unique system to generate renewable electricity from ocean waves. For energy companies, utilities and their customers, Pelamis machines offer the ability to unlock an immense clean energy resource with great potential. To see the Pelamis in actionclick here.
The Pelamis Wave Energy Converter is the result of many years of engineering development by PWP. It was the world’s first commercial scale machine to generate electricity to the grid from offshore wave energy and the first to be used commercially. For details about how the Pelamis works and to read about our new P2 device, click here. For details of recent machine operations and testing, click here.
Offshore wave energy has the potential to be one of the most environmentally benign forms of electricity generation. The wave energy around the British Isles has been estimated to be equivalent to three times current UK electricity demand, with the potential to convert a sizeable fraction of this wave energy to electricity. Many other areas of the world also present possible opportunities for wave power conversion. To discover what areas could be potential sites for wave technology in future, click here.
Frank Cunha III
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