Hydropower

Wave Energy To Power Portugal

The launch of the Agucadoura project, one of the first commercial wave power farms has taken place in Povoa do Varzim, Portugal. The first phase project will initially generate 2.25 megawatts (MW) of electricity using three Pelamis Wave Energy Converters (PWEC), which are a semi-submerged, articulated structures composed of cylindrical sections linked by hinged joints.

The second phase of the project will be to manufacture and install a further twenty five machines and bring the installed capacity up to 21 megawatts (MW). The generators are located approximately 3 miles off the coast.
The wave power farm harnesses energy produced by ocean waves which is brought ashore by a submarine cable and fed directly into the national distribution grid controlled by EDP PL.

The project is a joint venture with 77% owned by a group of three companies including, Babcock & Brown, Energias de Portugal (EDP PL) and Efacec. Pelamis Wave Power Limited holds the remaining 23%. The project represents a total investment of approximately EUR 9 million [US $13.23 million].

“This wave farm will provide electricity to 1,500 homes by the end of the year and once fully operational could provide electricity to 350,000 homes,” said Manuel Pinho, Portugal’s Minister for The Economy and Innovation. “We are on track for 45 percent of consumption from renewable energy sources by 2010 but actually a 2020 target of between 55 and 60 percent is perfectly feasible.”

This project is part of a broader partnership that Babcock & Brown, EDP and Efacec, have agreed to. Called the Ondas de Portugal (Waves of Portugal) consortium, the group will focus on the development of experimental wave energy projects. The Agucadoura project will be the first of a series of projects undertaken by the partnership. EDP PL will have a 45% stake in the consortium while Enersis will retain 35% and Efacec the remaining 20%.

With more than 800 kilometers of coastline, Portugal is well placed to benefit from wave power as part of European Union’s (EU) target to achieve 20 per cent of its energy consumption by green, renewable sources by 2020. Portugal achieved the EU’s 2020 target three years ago and have since set a goal for 45% by 2010. Some energy experts predict that Portugal will be able to source 20% of its energy needs from the sea.