UK could host $39m offshore wind test project

An energy association comprising some of the biggest names in power generation is considering locating a GBP 25m ($39.6m) demonstration project for offshore wind turbines at Wave Hub, the world’s largest wave energy test site located off the UK.

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is a UK based company comprising representatives from the UK government and six private sector members: BP, Caterpillar, EDF Energy, E.ON, Rolls-Royce and Shell.

The Etui’s demonstration project – announced last year – will see the design, construction and installation of a floating system at a site with high wind speeds of up to 10 meters per second in water between 60 and 100 meters deep.

It will be operated for at least two years to show it can generate high levels of electricity, be maintained without using specially designed vessels and to verify the predicted technical and economic performance.

The ETI is now investigating whether Wave Hub, located approximately 10 nautical miles off the north coast of Cornwall in South West England, will be a suitable location for the project.

Wave Hub consists of a gird-connected ‘socket’ on the seabed and tests arrays of wave energy devices in eight square kilometers of sea. Companies already using Wave Hub are Ireland’s Ocean Energy and UK/US-based Ocean Power Technologies.

ETI chief executive David Clarke said: “This is a challenging project and will need local marine engineering skills and support facilities as well as the right water and wind conditions. The concept for the floating platforms is to be able to access near-to-shore, high wind speed sites off the west coast of the UK which would bring down the cost of generating electricity, so the Wave Hub site offers some interesting possibilities.”

Wave Hub general manager Claire Gibson said: “We have a particular advantage in that the offshore grid infrastructure and onshore substation are already in place, and we also have a team that has experience of managing the design, consent and installation of offshore energy projects. We clearly need to consult with a wide range of groups and other sea users about this opportunity and this forms an important part of the study.”

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