RDA begins wave energy project

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The South West Regional Development Agency (RDA) has announced that construction is underway on its Wave Hub project off the north coast of Cornwall.

The project, which will install a large grid-connected socket on the seabed for wave energy devices, is hoped to make the south west of England a leading player in the global marine energy industry.

Stephen Peacock, executive director of Enterprise and Innovation at the South West RDA, said: ‘This milestone is the culmination of more than six years’ work by the RDA and its partners and will catapult south-west England and the UK to the forefront of wave energy development. Our aim is to create an entirely new low-carbon industry in the south west and hundreds of quality jobs.’

The initial phase of construction will take place on shore, where engineers will drill a 200m duct under and through sand dunes on the beach at Hayle in Cornwall. The duct will be lined with a pipe to link the Wave Hub’s subsea cable with a new electricity substation. Work on the substation will begin in January 2010 and is expected to take six months to complete.

Energy and climate change minister, Lord Hunt, welcomed news of the construction and said that it demonstrated huge scope for wave and tidal energy around the UK’s shores. ‘The south west is the UK’s first low-carbon economic area, building on its regional business opportunities and skills,’ he said. ‘The combination of its wealth of natural marine resource and its high level of expertise in marine technology makes it an ideal location for the Wave Hub.’

Wave Hub is being funded with £12.5m from the South West RDA, £20m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Convergence Programme and £9.5m from the UK government. The scheme is expected to be operational next year and has already signed up its first wave device developer.

Carleen Kelemen, director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: ‘Global climate change is both a set of challenges and a real opportunity for new development. This ERDF Convergence investment in the Wave Hub is part of a suite of investments in environmental goods and services through new research and innovation, skills and business development being made by the Convergence programmes for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as we prepare for the new economy.’