The Wave Hub project has moved another step closer to reality after a £1m contract was placed for electrical equipment installation to link the wave-energy scheme with the National Grid.
Work will be carried out by Poole-based Powermann, which won a European-wide tender process to supply and install onshore electrical equipment. The company specialises in high-voltage power station and sub-station projects and employs 75 people in Dorset.
The Wave Hub project is being spearheaded by the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA) and will create a giant grid-connected electrical socket on the seabed off the coast of Cornwall to enable wave-energy devices to be tested on a scale not seen before.
Earlier in August 2009, the government announced that south west England will become a world centre for wave and tidal energy after the region was designated the UK's first Low Carbon Economic Area because of its strength in marine energy.
The government is investing £9.5m in Wave Hub and a further £10m to support other marine-energy projects in the south west. The total Wave Hub project is now valued at £42m, with funding also secured from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme (£20m) and the RDA (£12.5m).
Nick Harrington, head of marine energy at the South West RDA, said: 'We are delighted to have Powermann on board to deliver the onshore electrical package for Wave Hub.
'Now that we have reached the stage of awarding contracts to suppliers the project is really taking off and we look forward to shortly starting the recruitment for a Wave Hub general manager, who will lead the operation of Wave Hub.'
With planning consent, funding and its first wave-energy device developer – Ocean Power Technologies – all in place, installation work on Wave Hub is likely to start in summer 2010, with the first wave-energy devices expected to be deployed in 2011.
The RDA has already placed its first equipment order with JDR Cable Systems to manufacture the cable and hub assembly for Wave Hub in a contract worth £7.6m. The latest contract award to Powermann includes the supply of transformer, electrical switchgear and other high-voltage equipment.
Nigel Ritchie-Lilley, engineering manager at Powermann, said: 'Over the past 12 months we've seen a significant growth in our work within the renewable energy sector and we are very excited about working on our first wave-energy project.'