This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 08, 2006

Three Companies Selected for U.K. Wave Hub Project

The South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA) on February 2nd named three companies that it has chosen as development partners for its proposed $26.2-million Wave Hub project. The Wave Hub aims to create the world's first wave energy farm off the coast of Cornwall by building an electrical "socket" on the seabed roughly 10 miles out to sea, connected to the U.K. power grid via an underwater cable. Wave energy devices would be connected to the Wave Hub, allowing device manufacturers to carry out large-scale testing of their machines before going into commercial production. The three companies are Ocean Prospect Ltd., Ocean Power Technologies, and Fred. Olsen Ltd. The South West RDA expects to build the "socket" next year, with the wave power installations following shortly thereafter.

An illustration of a wave energy plant shows a dozen red pencil-shaped devices, each about 130 yards long, floating perpendicular to the ocean waves and spaced out in a large array.

An artist's concept of the Pelamis wave energy plant.
Credit: Ocean Power Delivery

Ocean Prospect intends to test ten Pelamis devices from Ocean Power Delivery. The Pelamis devices consist of floating cylinders connected by hinged joints. The wave-induced motion of these joints is resisted by hydraulic rams, which pump high-pressure oil through hydraulic motors to drive electrical generators and produce electricity. Ocean Power Technologies plans to install 5 megawatts of wave power using its PowerBuoy wave energy converter, which is moored to the seabed. The buoy's float moves with the waves, driving a hydraulic pump to produce electricity. The Fred. Olsen system also employs floating buoys. See the South West RDA press release.

Wave and tidal energy continues to garner significant attention in the United Kingdom. A recent report from the Carbon Trust found that wave and tidal power could provide one-fifth of U.K. energy needs. Marine Current Turbines Ltd., the developer of a tidal flow turbine, is investigating the feasibility of building a 10-megawatt tidal energy farm on the north Devon coast. The company was also given approval in December to install a 1-megawatt device in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland and plans to complete the project this year. And Wave Dragon Limited—developer of a floating device that channels waves into an elevated reservoir—has teamed up with KP Renewables plc. The companies plan to deploy a 7-megawatt Wave Dragon unit off the coast of Wales next year, with expectations to expand the project to 77 megawatts by 2009. See the Carbon Trust press release (PDF 34 KB), the press releases from Marine Current Turbines on the Devon project (PDF 133 KB) and the Northern Ireland project (PDF 67 KB), and the Wave Dragon press release. Download Adobe Reader.