UK Wave Farm Gets Government Go-Ahead

Wave Hub, a large scale wave farm being developed off the coast of Cornwall, England, has cleared its last major regulatory hurdle. Yesterday, the British Government gave planning approval for the GBP 28 million [US$55 million] project, which is scheduled to come online in 2009.

The consent announcement was made by John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Funding for the project has already been approved by the South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA), which is investing in a range of demonstrator projects in the wave, tidal and biomass sectors to promote the development of renewable energy in South West England.

“This is a fantastic confidence boost for this emerging industry,” said Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of BWEA, the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. “Wave Hub will be a crucial part of the learning curve for everyone with an interest in wave energy development around the world and will underpin the growing confidence in these exciting technologies.”

Wave Hub will include an onshore substation connected to electrical equipment on the seabed about 16 kilometers (10 miles) offshore via a sub-sea cable. The Wave Hub project will cover an area of sea measuring four kilometers by two kilometers—and give companies developing wave energy technology the ability to plug into Wave Hub to test their devices.

Each wave device developer will be granted a lease of between five and 10 years in an area of approximately two square kilometers.

Four wave device developers have already been chosen to work with the South West RDA on the project. They are Oceanlinx, 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.

Up to 30 wave energy devices are expected to be deployed at Wave Hub and will float on the surface of the sea. The water at the deployment site is approximately 50 meters deep.

Matthew Spencer, Chief Executive of Regen SW, the renewable energy agency for South West England, added: “This is great news. Wave Hub is the right idea, in the right place, at the right time. Now the engineers and the developers can get cracking and make Cornwall the place where wave energy comes of age.”

A new independent economic impact assessment, commissioned by the RDA, has shown that Wave Hub could create 1,800 jobs and £560 million in the UK economy over 25 years. Almost 1,000 of these jobs and £332 million would be generated in South West England.

Wave Hub could generate enough electricity for 7,500 homes, directly saving 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years. This would support South West England’s target for generating 15% of the region’s power from renewable sources by 2010.

Tim German, Director of the Cornwall Sustainable Energy Partnership, which has been focusing on the benefits of Wave Hub to Cornwall, said, “We have been eagerly awaiting this news which clears the way for this exciting project, casting the world’s eyes on the UK’s green peninsula. It will be a key feature of the industrial revolution of the 21st century, playing an important role in Cornwall’s economic and low carbon future.”

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has committed £4.5 million towards the cost and the RDA has already invested in excess of £2 million to get it to this stage. In April the RDA approved £21.5 million of funding for Wave Hub.

Half of this is expected to come from the European Regional Development Fund through the Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.


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