Welsh wave farm to power 60,000 homes

Plans for a wave farm with the capacity to supply electricity to 60,000 homes came a step closer to realisation when the Welsh European Funding Office confirmed it will fund the first stage of the project on Tuesday.

The £5m of funding will be spent on the first “wave dragon” device to be deployed off the coast of West Wales in mid-2007, in time for the winter storms.

The project envisages a total of 11 machines floating 10km off the coast by 2010, channelling waves into reservoirs above sea level, and using their kinetic energy to generate electricity in much the same way as hydro-power plants. The electricity will then be fed it into the mainland grid via power cables connecting the machines to the shore.

“Once the design proves itself by surviving the winter, we will proceed with the full-scale project,” a spokesman for KP Renewables told edie.

The first machine will pave the way for what Wave Dragon chairman Hans Christian Sorensen described as “the UK’s first true wave power station.”

“It is a question of scale – these devices produce 7 megawatts of power each, while most others so far give an output measured in kilowatts. This will also give much better economies of scale and help to reduce costs,” the KP Renewables spokesman explained.

The project, which KP Renewables is running in conjunction with Wave Dragon Ltd, will next undergo an environmental impact assessment – although KP renewables believes the environmental impact is negligible.

UK electricity retailers are obliged to source an increasing portion of their supplies from renewables, with a target of 10.4% by 2010.

Wave and tidal power have substantial potential to contribute to the targets, the results of a major Carbon Trust study released last month show. The study found that wave and tidal power could supply 50 Terra-Watt Hours of electricity to the UK – corresponding to 20% of the UK’s total energy needs.

By Goska Romanowicz

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