Wave Hub for Ocean Energy

A revolutionary ‘Wave Hub’ 10 miles off the South West coast of England to harness the power of the ocean could lead to the creation of up to 700 jobs and contribute GBP 27 million (US$ 51 million) a year to the economy as a result of the creation of the new wave power industry.

These are among the conclusions of a series of studies commissioned by the South West of England Regional Development Agency into the economic impact and feasibility of the project, which aims to create the world’s first offshore facility for the large-scale testing of wave energy devices. The Wave Hub, which has already received support in principle from Energy Minister Mike O’Brien, would bridge the difficult gap between production prototypes and full commercial wave farms. It would also generate enough clean, renewable energy to power 14,000 homes. Wave energy developers would have a direct connection to the national grid and it would provide a simplified permit and consenting regime with the aim of putting the UK and South West at the forefront of the global development of wave energy technology. “The development of wave and tidal energy has enormous potential in the UK, and UK businesses have an opportunity to be world leaders in the field,” Energy Minister Mike O’Brien said. “The Wave Hub project is an excellent example of a scheme that could bridge the chasm between research and development and full-scale production.” The Wave Hub would be located on the seabed within the UK’s territorial limit, approximately 10 miles out to sea. Wave energy converters on or just below the surface would be linked to the wave hub, and an electricity cable would run under the sea floor to connect it to the national grid on land. Taking account of wave and tidal streams, shipping lanes, the fishing industry, grid connectivity and the environment, an ideal location for the Wave Hub has been identified off the coast of Hayle, in North Cornwall. Hayle already has a direct connection to the national grid, allowing a total capacity of up to 30 MW. The proposed location for the Wave Hub is now undergoing detailed wave energy monitoring following the deployment last month of a wave measuring buoy by Regen SW, the renewable energy agency for the South West of England, which was set up by the South West RDA, and key regional partners, in 2002. Funded by GBP 195,000 (US$ 370,000) of private sector investment from RWE npower, the buoy is transmitting real time wave climate data from off the North Cornwall coast, which will help wave energy companies develop their designs and prove the suitability of the site. The next step will be to secure development funding for the project, estimated at GBP 1.42 million (US $ 2.69 million), to undertake detailed environmental assessment work and firm up the engineering details, obtain all legal permits and leases, complete the business plan for the project and prepare legal contracts with device and project developers. At the same time, the South West RDA will be identifying potential funders for the estimated GBP 12.42 million (US$ 23.5 million) construction costs of the wave hub. This will include discussions with the DTI on whether the project could qualify for funding under the department’s GBP 50 million (US$ 95 million) Marine Research Deployment Fund. The South West RDA will also investigate whether the project could secure funding from the European Objective One Program for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The European Commission has recently said that the wave hub would qualify as being within the geographic Objective One area, despite being 10 miles offshore. The South West RDA has published the results of the feasibility studies on the wave hub website at the following link below.
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