The pioneering Wave Hub marine energy project has been safely installed on the seabed following a delicate operation to lower the 12-tonne hub into 55 metres of water, 16 kilometres off the coast of Cornwall in South West England.
Wave Hub is creating the world’s largest test site for wave energy technology by building a grid-connected socket on the seabed, to which wave power devices can be connected and their performance evaluated. The £42 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 and the UK.
“This ground breaking project will strengthen the UK’s position at the forefront of the wave energy sector. The UK is already leading the way, with 25% of the world’s wave and tidal technologies being developed here,” says UK Science Minister David Willetts. “The sector could be worth £2 billion by 2050 and it has the potential to create up to 16,000 jobs by 2040.”
Wave Hub is connected to the shore via a 25km, 1,300-tonne subsea cable. Groups of wave energy devices will be connected to Wave Hub and float on or just below the surface of the sea to assess how well they work and how much power they generate before being commercially produced and deployed. There are four berths available at Wave Hub, each covering two square kilometres.
Wave Hub will have an initial maximum capacity of 20MW (enough electricity to power approximately 7,000 homes) but has been designed with the potential to scale up to 50MW in the future. The first wave energy devices are expected to be deployed in 2011.
Wave Hub is being funded with £12.5 million from the South West RDA, £20 million from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme and £9.5 million from the UK government.