Ocean Power Delivery’s Pelamis system, the world’s first commercial scale floating wave energy converter (WEC), supplied the electricity at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, after completing its first week of generation.

The system has been in development for the past six years. Each machine has a rated power output of 750kW and the electricity generation is expected to be sufficient to meet the annual electricity needs of over 500 households.

Richard Yemm, Managing Director of Ocean Power Delivery said: “Installation of the Pelamis prototype at EMEC went smoothly and it is tremendously exciting to generate our first power into the grid. We look forward to fully characterising the performance of the machine over the coming months and to using the results from EMEC to underpin the construction of the first commercial Pelamis wave farms.”

He added that, despite extensive testing and sea-trials, the Pelamis would shortly be brought back in to carry out a full inspection of all systems before redeployment for further testing. Ocean Power Delivery are expecting that satisfactory testing of this system will lead to the first commercial orders being placed for multi-machine projects or ‘wave farms’ consisting of a number of machines interlinked and sharing a common sub-sea cable back to shore.

For example, the company says a 30MW wave farm would consist of 40 machines occupying approximately one square kilometre, and would provide sufficient electricity for over 20,000 households.

Michael Hay, Marine Renewables Development Manager for BWEA said: “This is fantastic news for renewable energy in the UK. We have one of the best wave resources in Europe and a high concentration of the most committed engineering teams in place to help maximise the potential within this huge source of clean energy. OPD have shown that continued support for this emerging power sector is essential to ensure wave power follows in the footsteps of wind and becomes a readily available commercial technology.”

By David Hopkins

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