‘World first’ wave farm gets green light

The Government has given planning approval for what is being billed as the world's first large-scale wave farm off the coast of Cornwall.

The £28m Wave Hub, which is being developed by the South West England Regional Development Agency, could generate 20MW of electricity – enough to power 7,500 homes.

John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, gave the green light to the project on Monday. It is expected to be operational in 2009.

Regional chiefs said the Wave Hub will save 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over 25 years and provide 3% of Cornwall’s domestic electricity needs.

Juliet Williams, chairman of the South West RDA, said: “This announcement is a huge step forward for Wave Hub and is a vote of confidence in the RDA’s ability to create a groundbreaking renewable energy project in south west England that will lead the world in the development of wave energy technology.”

The RDA has already invested more than £2m in the project, and has approved £21.5m of funding for the Wave Hub, half of which is expected to come from the European Regional Development Fund.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has committed another £4.5m towards the cost.

The Wave Hub will be constructed about 16 kilometres offshore, and will be populated by up to 30 devices from four different developers, each of whom will provide 5 MW of its 20 MW total.

The four wave developers are Oceanlinx, Ocean Power Technologies Limited, Fred Olsen Limited and WestWave who will each be demonstrating different devices.

The devices will be connected to electrical equipment on the seabed, which will be linked by cable to an onshore substation.

Companies developing wave energy technology will also be able to plug into Wave Hub to test their wave energy devices.

Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association, said: “It is this kind of progress that makes the UK the global hotspot for the expansion of carbon free energy from the sea and we must ensure it remains so.”

Surfers Against Sewage has also backed the scheme. Campaigns officer Andy Cummins said: “We look forward to using the same energy we’ve used to ride waves to light up our homes as well.”

Kate Martin

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