Monday, 16 November 2009

Work to start on £42m Wave Hub
November 12, 2009

THE world's largest commercial wave farm is moving closer to fruition as its developer announced onshore construction will begin next week, writes the WMN's Graeme Demianyk. Wave Hub, which will be sited 10 miles off the north coast of Cornwall, is in effect a giant electrical grid-connected "socket" on the seabed in which green energy firms can "plug" their wave energy devices. The South West Regional Development Agency yesterday said contractors would start work at Hayle beach in Cornwall on Monday ahead of laying a massive sub-sea cable next summer.

The government-backed project has been hailed as massive boon of the Westcountry economy, creating an estimated 1,000 jobs in the region and laying the foundations for a new, well-paid marine energy industry in Cornwall. Stephen Peacock, executive director of enterprise and innovation at SWRDA, said: "This milestone is the culmination of more than six years' work by the RDA and its partners and will catapult South West England and the UK to the forefront of wave energy development. "Our aim is to create an entirely new low carbon industry in the South West and hundreds of quality jobs."

While the project has secured planning consents and around £42 million of funding from SWRDA, the EU and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, it has signed up just one developer thus far. Ocean Power Technologies is to take one of four berths available at the scheme, while talks continue with engineers Fred Olsen and Bodmin-based Orecon. In April it emerged a consortium of energy company E.ON and Bristol-based partner Ocean Prospect dropped out to focus on testing wave technology at a rival site in Orkney.

The first wave energy devices will hopefully be deployed in 2011, SWRDA has said. During the first phase of construction between now and the end of the year, civil engineers Dean & Dyball will drill a 200-metre duct under and through sand dunes on the beach at Hayle in Cornwall. The narrow duct will be lined with a pipe as it is drilled and will eventually link Wave Hub's sub-sea cable with a new electricity sub-station on the site of a former power station. Work on the sub-station will start in January and is expected to take six months to complete. Wave Hub will be deployed and the sub-sea cable laid in the summer of next year.

The SWRDA has also announced the appointment of Guy Lavender as general manager for the Wave Hub project. Energy and Climate Change Minister, Lord Hunt, said: "Clean green renewable energy is a central component of our response to climate change and ensuring future energy supplies. The scope for wave and tidal power energy around the UK's shores is massive and the Wave Hub will help marine energy developers test their cutting edge projects and help them reach commercial viability."