Tide turns in favour of wave power

The world's first commercial wave farm will be installed in Portugal after a deal was signed between a Portuguese energy consortium and Edinburgh-based firm Ocean Power Delivery (OPD).

The project will see three Pelamis P-750 wave energy converters (WECs) installed 5km off the northern coast of Portugal and putting out 2.25MW.

If the pilot goes as expected another 30 of the machines will be installed before the end of next year, providing a further 20MW.

OPD has been developing the Pelamis system for the past seven years and the company’s WECs already supply the electricity for the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney (see related story).

But this is the first large-scale project to use the new technology and has sparked further optimism in the future of renewables in Portugal.

Goncalo Serras Pereira, chairman of Enersis, the company leading the Portuguese consortium, said: “After 17 years of experience developing, constructing and operating mini hydro schemes and nine years with wind farms we believe wave energy will be the new Portuguese endogenous renewable resource.

“This move in conjunction with other potential partners may win significant industrial economic benefits for Portuguese companies as the market in developed and wave energy gains competitive advantage with other renewables.”

The initial three-Pelamis project is worth €8 million and will supply enough electricity for 1,500 homes while saving more than 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions were the electricity generated using conventional means.

“This is a significant milestone for our company and for wave energy,” said Richard Yemm, managing director of OPD.

“We see this order as just the first step in developing the Portuguese market which has the potential to be worth up to a billion Euros over the next 10 years.”

The WECs will be built in Portugal itself by a subsidiary of OPD.

By Sam Bond

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