The Wave Hub, a groundbreaking renewable energy project that is set to become the UK’s first offshore facility dedicated to wave energy, has been installed off the North Coast of Cornwall. Four wave energy generation devices will connect their arrays into the Hub, allowing developers to transmit and then sell their renewable energy to the UK’s electricity distribution grid. The total capacity of the hub will be 20 MWe (megawatt electrical).

The project that has cost £42 million ($64 million) will essentially be a ‘socket’ sitting on the seabed for wave energy converters to be plugged into. It is hoped Wave Hub’s construction will make the South West of England a leading player in the global marine energy industry. Wave Hub will also see the construction 0f a sub-station built at Hayle 10 miles away.  It will be situated adjacent to a connection point on the distribution network. From there, a cable will be taken through a 200m duct beneath the sand dunes and then across the sea bed to an eight square kilometre area within which the devices will be moored.

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The South West Regional Development Agency (RDA) has put £12.5 million into the project with £20 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Convergence Programme. Another £9.5 million will come from the UK government. The scheme is expected to be operational next year and has already signed up its first wave device developer – Ocean Power Technologies Limited. Fred Olsen Limited, WestWave and Oceanlinx are said to be the other three companies.

Stephen Peacock, executive director of Enterprise and Innovation at the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA), said, “This milestone is the culmination of more than six years’ work by the RDA and its partners and will catapult south-west England and the UK to the forefront of wave energy development. Our aim is to create an entirely new low-carbon industry in the south west and hundreds of quality jobs.”

Energy and climate change minister, Lord Hunt, welcomed news of the construction and said that it demonstrated huge scope for wave and tidal energy around the UK’s shores. “The south west is the UK’s first low-carbon economic area, building on its regional business opportunities and skills,” he said. “The combination of its wealth of natural marine resource and its high level of expertise in marine technology makes it an ideal location for the Wave Hub.”

However while Wave Hub may be a source of national pride as well as renewable power, no-one is more proud than the RDA’s Wave Hub General Manager Guy Lavender who said, “Seeing Wave Hub lowered into the water was the culmination of more than seven years’ hard work by hundreds of people and the fact that it was designed and built in this country is testimony to the skills and experience that the UK already has in the fledgling marine renewables industry.”

+ South West RDA: Wave Hub

Images from South West RDA