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Australia assessment finds 170,000 mw of wave energy

A wave power assessment of the southern Australia coast finds 170,000 mw of near-shore wave energy potential. The independent report, commissioned by wave energy developer Carnegie Corp., estimates a “conservative” 10 percent of that amount – 17,000 mw – is economically extractable. Carnegie said that means 35 percent of Australia’s current power usage could be met by wave energy.

The report, produced by ocean resource specialist RPS MetOcean, also says the potential wave energy has 97.5 percent availability, powered by the circumpolar Southern Ocean, making baseload wave generation possible. In a previous report, the theoretical unconstrained deep water wave resource was estimated at 500,000 mw, reflecting more exposed ocean conditions in water depths greater than 50 meters.

Report data was obtained primarily from the globally utilized National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) WaveWatch III wave modeling system and verified against actual wave measurements along Australia’s southern coastline. The report provides further detail on 17 potential wave farm development sites, Carnegie says.

Carnegie operates the CETO Wave Energy Research Facility in Fremantle. The first CETO II wave energy prototype achieved initial operation in February at the CETO test site. CETO features a wave power converter that sits on the seabed. It transmits high-pressure seawater ashore that is used either to power a turbine-generator or for reverse osmosis to produce fresh water.

Wave project beginsoperating in Portugal

Energias de Portugal (EDP) is operating the 2.25-mw Agucadoura wave farm off the northern coast of Portugal.

Three articulated steel “sea-snakes” developed by Scotland-based Pelamis Wave Power are moored to the seabed 3 miles offshore. The three units generate enough electricity to supply 1,500 households. The first phase of the project cost about 8.5 million euros (US$12.55 million).

A total of 25 Pelamis units should be installed in the next few years, boosting the capacity to 21 mw, says Anthony Kennaway, spokesman for investment firm Babcock and Brown, which runs the Agucadoura project. Kennaway says the units are connected to the national grid.

The machines, each 140 meters long and 3.5 meters in diameter, are positioned head-on toward the waves so that their sections move with the waves. Each joint of the Pelamis contains a hydraulic pump, which pumps high-pressure liquid through motors that, in turn, drive generators. The energy is then transmitted to a substation on shore via subsea cables.

The Agucadoura project is supported by a government feed-in tariff equivalent to about 0.23 euros (33.7 US cents) per kilowatt-hour. Under the system used in many countries, national power utilities are ordered by governments to buy, or feed in, from renewable energy sources at above market rates.

Partners in the project are EDP, engineering firm EFACEC, Babcock and Brown, and Pelamis Wave Power.

First unit of wave project launched in Spain

Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) of the United States is operating its first commercial wave-power generator in Spain, part of the 1.39-mw Santona project.

The 40-kw PowerBuoy was deployed under contract with Spanish utility Iberdrola at Santona in Spain’s Cantabria Region, says OPT Chief Operating Officer Mark Draper. Fabricated in nearby Santander, Spain, with a power take-off and control system built by OPT in the United States, the PowerBuoy is 7 meters in diameter at the sea surface and 20 meters in length.

OPT has a tentative deal to develop nine more buoys over the next year and eventually create a PowerBuoy farm for Iberdrola, capable of generating enough energy to supply up to 2,500 homes annually.

Iberdrola Energias Marinas de Cantabria S.A. – a joint venture of OPT, Iberdrola, and French energy company Total S.A. – signed a turnkey contract in 2006 with OPT to build the first phase of the Santona (also called Cantabria) wave power plant 5 miles off Santona. The joint venture is to purchase the power station from OPT, which is to operate and maintain the plant for up to ten years.

ScottishPower Renewables evaluating U.K. tidal sites  

ScottishPower Renewables is evaluating two tidal power sites in Scotland and a third in Northern Ireland totaling 60 mw. The unit of United Kingdom utility ScottishPower identified the sites as Pentland Firth and the Sound of Islay in Scotland and off the North Antrim coast of Northern Ireland.

ScottishPower Renewables expects to submit planning applications to the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Assembly in mid-2009. The projects could be operating by 2011.

The utility said each site is being evaluated with a view to installing five to 20 1-mw tidal turbines. It said that could lead to total output of 60 mw.

The technology to be used at these sites is the Lanstrom turbine, which was developed by Hammerfest Strom AS, a company jointly owned by ScottishPower Renewables and Statoil Hydro and Hammerfest Energi of Norway. After four years of testing in Norway, the device is to complete final testing in Scottish conditions ahead of full deployment at the tidal farms from 2011.

ScottishPower Renewables Director Keith Anderson said the advances in ocean energy development have been achieved with the support and encouragement of the Scottish Government.

Orecon developing 1.5-mw wave energy converter

Orecon of the United Kingdom is developing a commercial-scale 1.5-mw Multi Resonant Chamber (MRC) device to capture ocean energy.

The device uses oscillating water column technology, which means there are no moving parts in the water. Each buoy housing the device consists of wave chambers. As a wave passes, the water level rises then falls in the chamber. As the water rises, air trapped at the top of the chamber is pushed out through an opening; as the water level drops, the air is sucked back into the chamber. A turbine located in the opening rotates with the pressure of the moving air, turning a generator to produce electricity.

If the wave chambers are of the correct length relative to the frequency of the incoming waves, the movement of the water inside the chamber will resonate, resulting in a greater transfer of energy and the production of more electrical power. Each buoy consists of three wave chambers of different lengths, to ensure that at least one chamber is always in resonance with the incoming waves.

In 2002, Orecon deployed a proof-of-concept device outside Plymouth Sound off the southwest coast of the United Kingdom. This system operated in a range of conditions, from flat calm to hurricane-force winds, Orecon says.

Currently, the company is focusing on proving the storm survival and reliability of the MRC. The company plans to deploy and begin operation of the first 1.5-mw device in the summer of 2010.


Dutch-based sustainable energy company Econcern sees huge potential off the coast of the Netherlands for tidal energy, osmotic power plants to harness energy where salt and fresh water meet, and other energy projects, said Chief Executive Officer Ad van Wijk. To increase net profit by more than tenfold by 2012, the firm plans to invest 10 billion to 12 billion euro (US$15.7 billion to US$18.8 billion) in projects using solar, wind, and other sustainable resources. … Electricité de France awarded a contract to Alstom Hydro France for maintenance services for the 24 generators at its 240-mw La Rance tidal plant. The contract is a three-year agreement for electro-technical services on stators and rotors of La Rance’s generators. … Development group Sark Renewable Energy has named Airtricity, a unit of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) of the United Kingdom, its partner to develop tidal power off Sark island off the coast of France. Tidal capacity surrounding the island is estimated at 500 mw. … U.S.-based investment bank Morgan Stanley increased its stake in Singapore-based tidal company Atlantis Resources Corp. Morgan Stanley said it now has the largest shareholding in Atlantis after a non-cash deal whereby it added its own tidal power project development business to the company. Atlantis plans to test 1-mw and 2-mw turbines next year and start installing commercial-scale “arrays” from 2012.

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