Wave Farm Potential off UK Coast

A project off the UK coast is opening up key data for developers keen on tapping the power of the ocean waves. Just as a wind energy test tower could provide a host of developers information about the potential for wind power, hopeful wave energy developers have been given access to the first set of data about the potential off the UK’s north Cornish coast.

The Wave Buoy, funded by RWE npower, records waves, tidal current and the presence of marine wildlife — all essential factors to determining the ocean energy potential that lies in the Atlantic. The data will help wave energy device designers, and potential investors, understand the environment within which demonstration wave energy projects might operate, while enabling more accurate predictions about the amount of clean energy that could be produced. The Wave Buoy, which continues to collect data at its location in the South West, identified an average wave height of 2.3 m (7.5 ft) over the three-month period. The largest wave recorded was 8.8 m (or 28 ft) high in February of this year. “This is the most detailed wave data ever collected off the Cornish coast and it confirms that we have a hugely powerful energy resource,” said Matthew Spencer, chief executive of Regen SW. “We are providing this data to wave device developers from around the world and encouraging them to come and develop the first wave farms in the South West of England.” The Wave Buoy’s data works in conjunction with another related project called the Wave Hub – an electrical ‘socket’ that will be located approximately 20 km off the Cornish coast, to which arrays of wave energy converters could be connected. Regen SW, the renewable energy agency for the South West of England, initiated the project in January 2005. Both the Wave Buoy’s data, and the Wave Hub grid connection are expected to help speed up the installation of the UK’s first wave farms to generate clean electricity. The Wave Hub is expected to be commissioned in mid 2007. “The Government has set challenging targets for the development of renewable energy. Onshore wind farms, hydroelectric power stations and biomass projects will help us meet the short term targets of supplying 10% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2010,” said Andy Duff chief executive RWE npower. “We also need large scale offshore wind farms and marine technology to be developed as quickly as possible to meet long term renewables targets.”
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