Creating Power from Wave Energy

The possibility of a three megawatt (3 MW) wave energy plant in the Hebridean island of Lewis is closer to development due to a recent agreement between Voith Siemens Hydro (and its Scottish subsidiary Wavegen) and npower renewables, a British subsidiary of RWE.

The Oscillating Water Column (OWC) technology to be used in this plant would be based on Wavegen’s Limpet plant on the island of Islay, which is the only grid-connected OWC plant operating under commercial conditions. The plant has been operating since 2000. If the project goes ahead, npower renewables and Wavegen would integrate its OWC technology into a new breakwater. By combining such a renewable energy project with the breakwater development, civil engineering costs could be shared and result in a considerable cost reduction for the wave power plant, while providing local benefit from the new breakwater that creates a new harbor for the local infrastructure. The plant is assumed to supply electricity for around 1,500 homes per year. “We believe that the operation of the Limpet plant over the last five years gives Wavegen unrivalled experience of grid-connected wave plant operation,” said Hubert Lienhard, CEO at Voith Siemens Hydro. When feasibility work is concluded successfully, the project will apply for funds from the British Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) “Marine Renewables Deployment Fund.” This national UK-based financing mechanism aims to provide both capital and revenue support for initial arrays of wave energy plants. A key requirement for support under this program is that the technology must have been demonstrated at full scale for an uninterrupted period of at least three months. Wavegen’s five years operational experience of the Limpet plant is unique in this regard.
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