Wave energy park plans for Scilly

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WaveEL buoy at Rundle in Norway

A Swedish renewable energy company is hoping to establish one of the world’s first full scale wave energy parks off the Isles of Scilly as part of ambitions to generate 40% of the islands’ power from renewable sources by 2025.

Waves4Power says an array of its next generation WaveEL buoys could meet much of this demand and follows the inauguration of its first grid-connected device off the coast of Norway in September.

The buoy has been developed to supply fish farms, offshore power platforms and remote island communities with renewable electricity.  The company already works with large fish farms in Norway and is hoping to partner with the Smart Islands project on the Isles of Scilly, which is aiming to slash energy bills by 40% and meet 40% of energy demand from renewable sources by 2025.

Waves4Power’s first grid-connected buoy was installed at Rundle in Norway earlier this year following ten months of testing and was officially inaugurated by Norway’s King Harald V in September.

Peter Child, Cornwall-based UK representative for Waves4Power, said: “Our grid-connected buoy has been generating electricity for more than five months and is a huge step forward for wave and marine energy. It shows that wave power is becoming a commercial reality. The Smart Islands project on the Isles of Scilly is an opportunity for Cornwall and Scilly to have a full scale wave park and become among the greenest islands in the world, and we very much hope to be part of that.”

Paul Wickes, chief executive of Cornwall Marine Network, also attended the formal launch of Wave4Power’s grid-connected buoy. He said: “To see the first long term grid connected working wave power device in the world showed what Waves4Power have achieved in such a short space of time, and I was very impressed by the strength of their partner network. There is now a tremendous opportunity for the Cornish marine supply chain to work with Waves4Power in the future.”

Cllr Jonathan Smith, lead member for the Smart Island Project on Scilly, said: “Being surrounded by excellent wave, wind and solar natural resources, we are creating a world-leading smart island project. It will combine energy reduction, renewable generation, energy storage, low carbon transport and improvements in fuel poverty and health, as well as offering skills and job opportunities.

“We are very excited about the potential for proven wave generation technology that could help power our islands in a sustainable way and look forward to working with Waves4Power to assess if the company can help meet our needs for low-carbon electricity.”

The WaveEL buoy is an 85-tonne point absorber device where the energy of the waves is converted into electricity via a water piston inside a 43-metre vertical tube. The elasticated mooring system allows the buoy to operate freely and in extreme conditions with wave heights of up to 25 metres.

Waves4Power are now working on the next generation buoy which will be made in polyethylene and special steels which will be lighter, stronger and have a higher power generation and efficiency output. Waves4Power has also developed a way of using surplus energy from the buoy to produce hydrogen (which can be used in gas turbines and for fuel cells), fresh water and oxygen.

The current device has a 100kW generator and has been producing 35-40kWh in very light seas during the summer. Now further testing and development will go on and it is planned to triple the power output. Waves4Power expects a substantial increase in efficiency with the next generation device due to be launched in 2018.