Wave Hub energy project prepares for offshore deployment and subsea cable installation

Source: South West RDA

The latest stage of South West RDA’s (Regional Development Agency) pioneering Wave Hub project is underway as the hub and its 25km cable are loaded onto a cable laying ship ready for deployment offshore in the next few weeks.

Wave Hub is creating the world’s largest test site for wave energy technology by building a grid-connected socket on the seabed, 16 kilometers off the coast of Cornwall, to which wave power devices can be connected and their performance evaluated. 
Guy Lavender, the RDA's Wave Hub general manager, is pictured with the hub and cable
The £42 million (US $63.9 million) project has been developed by the South West RDA and is a cornerstone of its strategy to develop a world class marine energy industry in South West England.

The cable, which weighs 1,300 tonnes and cost £7 million (US$10.6 million) to make, is being spooled directly from the JDR Cable Systems’ factory in Hartlepool onto the cable laying ship MV Nordica at a rate of 400 meters per hour. The delicate operation is running 24 hours a day and will take around five days to complete.

The hub weighs around 12 tonnes and will sit on the seabed. It will split the main cable linking it to the National Grid on shore into four 300m cables to which groups of wave energy devices can be attached and monitored for how they perform. CTC Marine Projects is carrying out the installation of the hub and subsea cable on the seabed.

Powermann Ltd of Poole in Dorset has been appointed to handle the £1 million (US $1.52 million)onshore electrical works that will connect Wave Hub to the UK’s National Grid network, and a new electricity sub-station at Hayle is being built by Dawnus Construction.

The Nordica has been chartered by CTC Marine Projects based in Darlington, County Durham, which has been appointed by the South West RDA to lay the cable and install Wave Hub on the seabed.

The RDA’s Wave Hub general manager, Guy Lavender, said: “This is a major milestone for Wave Hub and has been planned with military precision. We’ve already connected Wave Hub to the cable so it has been loaded first, followed by the cable itself. The whole operation needs to be carried out with great care so it will be a nail biting time for the whole team, but they are very experienced.

“After that the Nordica will head for the north Cornwall coast to start the cable laying operation, and weather permitting we expect Wave Hub to be in the water in early August. This will be followed by a rock dumping operation to hold the hub and cable in place, ready for the first wave energy devices to be deployed in 2011.”

Martin Moon, operations director at CTC Marine, said: “CTC recognizes the importance of renewable energy to the UK and believes Wave Hub is a significant milestone that opens up another avenue in the renewables market.

During its manufacture Wave Hub’s cable has been coiled horizontally around two giant 30 metro diameter rotating ‘spools’ or carousels in JDR’s factory, each of which can carry 2,200 tonnes. The 33,000 volt cable has been manufactured in one continuous length and is made up of six copper cores, 48 fiber optic cables, two layers of steel wire armoring and an outer polymer sheath. It is 16 centimeters in diameter.

The cable is being spooled onto a 2,000 tonne capacity carousel measuring 15 meters in diameter and 10 meters high and positioned on the rear deck of the Nordica. The operation is due to be completed before the end of this week.

Wave Hub is being funded with £12.5 million (US $19 million) from the South West RDA, £20 million (US $30.4 million) from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Program and £9.5 million (US $14.4 million) from the UK government.

An independent economic impact assessment has calculated that Wave Hub could create 1,800 jobs and inject £560 million (US $853.2 million) in the UK economy over 25 years. Almost 1,000 of these jobs and £332 million (US $505.8 million) could be generated in South West England.

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