Cornwall, England [RenewableEnergyAccess.com]
The first large-scale wave farm, set to be built 10 miles off the coast of Cornwall in South West England, is now one step closer to becoming a reality with approval of GBP 21.5 million [US$42.9 million] in funding. The investment means Wave Hub could be operational as early as summer 2008, subject to final UK Government and EU approval.
"This pioneering project is crucial for the success of wave energy development, not just in the UK but around the world. These funds represent a strong signal of intent from the South West RDA to help Britain retain its lead in this rapidly emerging, and potentially huge, clean energy industry and we look forward to welcoming the necessary consent to build, so that momentum can be maintained for UK marine renewables."
-- Maria McCaffery, British Wind Energy Association,CEO
Being developed by the South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA), the wave farm will feature a high voltage cable on the seabed and be connected to the National Grid via an electricity substation on the mainland.
Groups of wave energy devices will be attached to Wave Hub, and float on or just below the surface, allowing wave energy developers to test new technology, assess how well their devices work and how much power they will generate before going into full commercial production.
"This is public sector investment at its best -- taking the long view, taking risks the private sector can't take, and making significant investment in the technology we need to tackle climate change. Wave Hub will help make the UK the location of choice for companies developing wave energy, and should see British and overseas businesses making long term investments in Cornwall," said Matthew Spencer, chief executive of Regen SW, the renewable energy agency for South West England.
Three wave-energy companies are already working with the RDA to use Wave Hub, and a fourth will soon be selected. The companies involved include, Ocean Power Technologies Limited, Fred Olsen Limited and WestWave, a consortium of E.On and Ocean Prospect Limited, using the Pelamis technology of Ocean Power Delivery Ltd.
"This pioneering project is crucial for the success of wave energy development, not just in the UK but around the world. These funds represent a strong signal of intent from the South West RDA to help Britain retain its lead in this rapidly emerging, and potentially huge, clean energy industry and we look forward to welcoming the necessary consent to build, so that momentum can be maintained for UK marine renewables," said Maria McCaffery, CEO of the British Wind Energy Association.
The funding announcement coincided with the publication of an independent report into Wave Hub's possible impact on surf conditions on parts of Cornwall's coastline. Dr. Kerry Black, the New Zealand-based physical oceanographer, has concluded that the impact on wave height would be less than five percent -- or less than five centimeters off a meter-high wave.
This is in line with the RDA's own findings and far less than the 11 percent feared previously by some surfers.
"Wave Hub is a flagship project and this investment is very good news for South West England and particularly for Cornwall. Sustainable energy and carbon reduction will be the key to Cornwall's 21st Century industrial revolution and the Wave Hub will become a major part of the county's reinvention as a leader in innovation," said Tim German, director of the Cornwall Sustainable Energy Partnership, which has been focusing on the benefits of the Wave Hub to Cornwall.
The investment, which was agreed last week by the South West of England RDA, means Wave Hub has the necessary GBP 28 million [US$55.8 million] needed to build it. Approximately half the GBP 21.5 million [US$42.9 million] approved by the RDA is expected to come from the European Regional Development Fund through the Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
"We are determined to see South West England leading the world in the development of wave energy technology and capturing the economic benefits that will flow from it. Wave Hub has the potential to make an enormous contribution to tackling climate change and we believe it could transform the wave technology industry," said Stephen Peacock, Executive Director of Enterprise and Innovation at the South West RDA.
The South West RDA has applied to the UK Government for planning permission to build Wave Hub with a final decision expected by June.