Lisbon, Portugal [RenewableEnergyAccess.com]
Various ocean, tidal, and wave energy devices have undergone spirited research, development and testing throughout the world. This week, however, saw the formation of the first commercial wave energy project to tap the power of the ocean of the Portuguese coast.
"This is a significant milestone for our company and for wave energy."
- Richard Yemm, Managing Director of OPD
The UK's Ocean Power Delivery (OPD) signing of an order with a Portuguese consortium, led by Enersis, to build the initial phase of a commercial wave-energy project. This first phase will consist of three "Pelamis" P-750 machines located 5 km off Portugal's northern coast, near to Povoa de Varzim.
"This is a significant milestone for our company and for wave energy," said Richard Yemm, Managing Director of OPD. "We see this order as just the first step in developing the Portuguese market, which has the potential to be worth up to a billion Euros over the next 10 years".
Each Pelamis machine measures 120m long by 3.5m wide (about the size of four train carriages) and weighs 750 tons fully ballasted. The Pelamis is a semi-submerged, articulated structure composed of cylindrical sections linked by hinged joints. The wave-induced motion of these joints is resisted by hydraulic rams, which pump high-pressure oil through hydraulic motors via smoothing accumulators. The hydraulic motors drive electrical generators to produce electricity. Power from all the joints is fed down a single umbilical cable to a junction on the sea bed. Several devices can be connected together and linked to shore through a single seabed cable.
The Euro 8 million (USD 10 million) project will have an installed capacity of 2.25 MW, and, according to OPD, is expected to meet the average electricity demand of more than 1,500 Portuguese households while displacing more than 6,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions from conventional generating plant.
A letter of intent was issued to order a further thirty Pelamis machines (20 MW) before the end of 2006 subject to satisfactory performance of the initial phase.
After seventeen years of experience developing, constructing and operating mini hydro schemes, Goncalo Serras Pereira, Chairman of Enersis, believes that wave energy will be the new domestic renewable energy resource for Portugal.
"This move in conjunction with other potential partners may win significant industrial economic benefits for Portuguese companies as the market is developed and wave energy gains competitive advantage with other renewables," Pereira said.
Announcement of this order follows high profile meetings held recently between British and Portuguese officials at the British Embassy in April. These were attended by the UK government's Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir David King, who highlighted the need for immediate action to tackle the potential impacts of climate change.
The project is being supplied by Ocean Power Delivery - Portugal S.A., a wholly owned subsidiary of OPD with full rights to manufacture Pelamis machines in Portugal. Construction of the project will begin immediately.