Wave partner

Wave Hub, the wave-energy project to be built next year off the coast of south-west England, has announced another wave-energy development partner.

Wave Hub, the wave-energy project to be built next year off the coast of south-west England, has announced another wave-energy development partner.

Cornwall-based Orecon‘s oscillating water column wave-to-energy buoy will occupy the fourth berth at Wave Hub, which aims to be operational from August next year.

Orecon was established in 2002 by Nicola Harper and Fraser Johnson who had been developing wave-energy technology since 2001. The company was formed as a ‘spin-out’ from their postgraduate project at Plymouth University, which included sea trials of a 12th scale concept prototype.

Last year, it succeeded in raising $24m (£17m) of private investment for the development of its buoy, which can generate enough power for 1,000 homes.

Orecon takes the place of Australian company Oceanlinx, which was expected to use Wave Hub. The company has since received a grant from the Australian government and has decided to make its next deployment in Australian waters.

Wave Hub will be a giant electrical ‘socket’ on the seabed, some 10 miles (16km) offshore and connected to the National Grid, into which wave-energy device developers can plug their devices and carry out pre-commercial testing on a scale not seen before.

Nick Harrington, head of marine energy at the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA), which is leading the Wave Hub project, said: ‘We are now tendering for the electrical equipment and subsea cable, have agreed a new design that potentially gives us more generating capacity as technology evolves and have applied for a safety zone around the project.’

Construction of Wave Hub is expected to start in May 2010 and be completed by August 2010, with the first wave-energy devices expected to be deployed in 2011.

Orecon’s oscillating water column wave-to-energy buoy will occupy the fourth berth at Wave Hub, which aims to be operational from August next year

An independent economic impact assessment has calculated that Wave Hub could create 1,800 jobs and inject £560m into the UK economy over 25 years. Almost 1,000 of these jobs and £332m could be generated in the south west.