Wave power hasn’t scaled as successfully as solar or wind energy – however one British Overseas Territory could receive 15 percent of its electricity from the motion of the ocean. Gibraltar has teamed up with Israel-based wave energy company Eco Wave Power (EWP) to build a wave energy plant that could supply 5 megawatts of power.
Since 2011, EWP has been working on technology to capture the unique form of energy. A pilot plant at Jaffa Port in Israel and another test in Ukraine provided lessons along the way as the energy company created two versions of floating platforms to gather energy from the ocean. Wave power platforms have to withstand harsh weather and salt corrosion, which is why EWP utilizes coatings that grant their platforms a minimum lifespan of 30 years.
In 2014, EWP and Gibraltar signed a “power purchase agreement,” and the following year construction began. Last week Gibraltar officially switched on the partially completed plant. EWP says it is the “first grid connected Eco Wave Power plant and the only wave power plant anywhere in Europe, operating multiple wave units, under Commercial PPA terms.” According to CleanTechnica, so far the plant can supply 100 kilowatts, still far short of the 5 megawatts agreed upon, but a grant from the European Union will help them scale up the project in phases.
Gibraltar Minister for Health, Environment, Energy, and Climate Change John Cortes said, “In the last four and a half years, we have been through a lot. People were coming with these magic black boxes; they told us you give us some funding and we will give you the power. They never came up with anything. Nothing ever worked. This is clearly working. I think that the future is bright and the future like the past all those six million years ago is in the power of the sea all around us.”