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The world’s first commercial wave farm

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March 9, 2007

The world’s first commercial wave farm

The world’s first commercial wave farm

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March 10, 2007 Look at reports such as the Electric Power Research Institute’s Electricity Technology in a Carbon-Constrained Future (February 2007)and the Role of Renewable Energy in Future Electricity Supply (July 30, 2006) and you’ll see we all face some common problems – Planet Earth is showing signs of toxic shock, we need energy and we have yet to solve our reliance on emission-producing energy sources. Those same reports don’t see ocean power playing much of a role in the foreseeable future, but as the game plays itself out, new technologies for harvesting the power of the ocean is emerging. Already, claim its proponents, the costs of producing electricity from wind energy have fallen by 80% over the past two decades as a result of volume and production optimisation. With opening costs around half wind energy’s opening costs and a quarter the current cost of solar, a new form of wave energy harvester has the potential to become one of the lowest cost forms of generation in the longer term. The Pelamis is a semi-submerged structure composed of cylindrical sections linked by hinged joints. The wave-induced motion of these joints is resisted by hydraulic rams. These pump oil through hydraulic motors which drive generators to produce electricity. Power from all the joints is fed down a single umbilical cable to a junction on the sea bed. Several devices can be connected together and linked to shore through a single seabed cable.

In 2005, OPD secured the first order for Pelamis wave energy converters with a Portuguese consortium, to build the initial phase of the world's first commercial wave farm. The initial phase will consist of three Pelamis machines located off the North coast of Portugal. The Pelamis devices now being prepared for installation in Portugal are massive machines - over 120 metres long and weighing over 300 tonnes. They are the first commercial wave machines in the world.

OPD was set up in January 1998 to develop the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter concept. In March 2002, the company secured £6 million funding from an international consortium of venture capital companies, led by Norsk Hydro, to produce the largest investment of its kind in a wave power company and added to this, £1.5 million from the Carbon Trust.

The first full-scale pre-production Pelamis prototype (capacity of 750 kW) has undergone various stages of a testing programme at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney and is undergoing further testing.

In 2005, OPD secured the first order for Pelamis wave energy converters with a Portuguese consortium, led by Enersis, to build the initial phase of the world's first commercial wave farm. The initial phase will consist of three Pelamis machines located off the North coast of Portugal.

This 8 million euro project will have an installed capacity of 2.25MW, and is expected to meet the average electricity demand of more than 1,500 households. The three machines are currently undergoing final assembly prior to installation later this year.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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