Riding the waves

Wave energy specialist Pelamis Wave Power has secured a deal with E.ON to provide the next generation of its energy wave converter.


Wave energy specialist Pelamis Wave Power (PWP) has secured a deal with E.ON to provide the next generation of its energy wave converter.



The deal forms part of E.ON’s renewable development portfolio in the UK, which is intended to provide power for around a million homes and displace two million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.



The deal involves the installation of PWP’s next-generation wave energy converter: the 180m-long P2.



According to PWP, the original system is a semi-submerged structure made up of cylindrical sections that are linked by hinged joints. Wave-induced motion of the joints is resisted by hydraulic rams that pump high-pressure fluid through into the hydraulic motors through smoothing accumulators. The power from hydraulic motors is then converted to energy via drive electrical generators and fed through a single cable to a junction on the sea bed.



E.ON plans to acquire and trial the 750kW P2 technology at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney off the north coast of Scotland.



The P2 machine will be built at the Leith Docks facility in Edinburgh and is expected to be fully operational in 2010. The first year of testing will be an extended commissioning period, with the next two years designed to improve the device’s current design.



PWP claims that this will be the first time a major utility has ordered a wave energy converter for installation in the UK. It is also the first time that the commercial-scale machine will be tested anywhere in the world.



Amaan Lafayette, marine development manager at E.ON, said: ‘We recognise that much work has to follow before we can be certain that marine energy will fulfil its potential, but the success of this device will give us the confidence to move to the next phase of commercialisation, which is larger arrays around the UK coastline.


‘It’s only by actually getting devices in the water that we can test the potential for wave power in the UK, which is why this is such an important step.’