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    Mutriku wave projectunder construction in Spain

    Ente Vasco de la Energía (EVE), the energy board for the Basque region of Spain, is developing the 300-kw Mutriku wave plant. The plant is being built at the site of a new municipal breakwater owned by the Basque government.

    The Mutriku plant will use oscillating water column technology from Wavegen, a subsidiary of Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation. The breakwater, being built to protect the harbor at Mutriku from waves, contains vertical chambers connected to the sea by underwater openings. Wells turbines are located in the top of these chambers. External wave motion causes the water in the chamber to move up and down. When the water level rises, air is forced up through the turbines; when the water level falls, air is sucked back into the chamber through the turbines. The turbines are attached to induction machines to produce variable frequency alternating current. In October 2008, Voith Siemens will begin installing the turbines in the breakwater.

    The plant is expected to begin producing electricity in March or April 2009. Mutriku will provide 600 megawatt-hours of electricity each year. Because the Mutriku plant is a renewable energy source, EVE receives the tariff fixed by the Spanish government for the electricity generated. The law requires utility Iberdrola to buy the power from the project.


    Renewables bank sees ocean technology growth  

    Technology to make electricity from wave and tidal power lags more mature wind power schemes by just five years and will catch up rapidly, according to Triodos, one of the first banks to invest in wind in the 1980s. Previously, analysts have said marine power, which generates electricity from ocean waves and tidal changes, is as much as 20 years behind wind in its ability to meet the United Kingdom’s energy needs.

    “Ethical bank” Triodos, a Netherlands-based bank with more than 3.3 billion euros (US$5.2 billion) in assets, has been investing in wind projects since it turned against nuclear power after the 1986 Chernobyl power station disaster in the Soviet Union.

    Triodos Renewables Operations Director Matthew Clayton said his fund hopes to raise 8.5 million pounds (US$16.6 million) through a prospective share issue, up to 20 percent of which will be invested in marine power and other fledgling sustainable energy projects.

    United Kingdom-based Triodos Renewables, which operates 24 mw of wind capacity in the U.K., has looked at 30 wave and tidal investment opportunities in the past two years. It invested 1.8 million pounds (US$3.5 million) in Marine Current Turbines (MCT), which is testing a 1.3-mw tidal system in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Narrows.


    Npower renewables advances 4-mw Siadar Wave plant

    Npower renewables is moving forward with development of the 4-mw Siadar Wave Energy Project (SWEP) on Lewis Island in the Hebrides Islands of Scotland.

    SWEP is a collaboration between npower and wave power developer Wavegen. Npower said it would be the first project to operate under the Scottish government’s Marine Supply Obligation, established to promote the development of marine energy projects.

    The project, in Siadar Bay, would use technology based on Wavegen’s 500-kw Limpet (Land Installed Marine Powered Energy Transformer) plant on the island of Islay. Operating since 2000, Limpet uses oscillating water column technology and is the only grid-connected plant of its type operating under commercial conditions.

    SWEP is to be installed in a new breakwater, which would house the Wavegen turbines and provide a shelter and harbor facility for small craft.

    Npower submitted a planning application for the project in April 2008. If the Scottish government approves the plans, construction could begin in 2009.


    BioPower to test wave, tidal units in Australia

    Australia ocean power developer BioPower Systems Pty Ltd. will test and demonstrate wave and tidal power generating units off King and Flinders islands in Tasmania State.

    BioPower signed a memorandum of understanding with utility Hydro Tasmania for this work. BioPower will conduct pilot programs, including deployment of its bioWAVE ocean wave power system at King Island and its bioSTREAM tidal current system at Flinders Island. Each 250-kw installation will serve the islands’ distribution systems, which are owned by Hydro Tasmania.

    Hydro Tasmania is to establish the infrastructure to make the grid connections and to manage the supply of power from the offshore generators. The utility also is involved in gaining approvals and permits for the projects.

    The pilot programs are being 50 percent funded by an A$5 million (US$4.7 million) Renewable Energy Development Initiative grant, awarded to BioPower by the Australian government. The remaining cost is to be funded by BioPower, which raised A$6 million (US$5.6 million) through equity investments from Lend Lease Ventures, CVC REEF, and CVC Sustainable Investments.


    U.K. company developingwave energy converter

    Offshore Wave Energy Ltd. (OWEL) in the United Kingdom is developing its Grampus wave energy converter, which converts ocean wave energy into compressed air. The air is then used to drive a turbine and produce electricity.

    The Grampus unit consists of a tapered, horizontal duct floating on the ocean. As a wave enters the duct, air is trapped in the duct and is compressed between the wave and the stationary upper surface of the duct. This compressed air is taken from the duct through a valve and used to drive a conventional unidirectional turbine.

    When the system is deployed in the ocean, it will feature several ducts connected to a large floating concrete platform, says John Kemp, director of OWEL. The units would be deployed in water at least 40 meters deep. Existing technologies can be used for all major components, Kemp says. This includes the turbines, floating concrete platform, and single-point mooring system.

    To prove the concept, OWEL performed a feasibility study of a 1:100-scale model in a tank and completed mathematical modeling. The company then performed physical testing in a tank as well as computational fluid dynamics modeling on a computer of a 1:10-scale model of the Grampus device.

    The next step in development of this technology involves construction of a prototype to be deployed in the ocean. OWEL hopes to deploy this three-quarter-scale unit at the European Marine En-ergy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland.


    Briefly…

    A consortium led by Parsons Brinckerhoff is performing a strategic environmental assessment of the 8,640-mw Severn Barrage tidal project, proposed for Severn Estuary between England and Wales. The assessment is to analyze how the environment around the estuary would be affected and to consider the technology and location options for a project.

    The government of Scotland is offering the Saltire Prize, a 10 million pound (US$20 million) award to encourage scientists from throughout the world to push the frontiers of innovation in clean, green energy. Entrants for the prize are to demonstrate their innovations in Scotland.

    A report by Norway’s Energy Council said the country could become “Europe’s battery” by developing huge offshore wind parks backed by existing hydropower reservoirs. The report said sufficient wind parks, totaling 5,000 to 8,000 mw, would cost 100 billion to 220 billion Norwegian kroner (US$20 billion and US$43.9 billion).

    The United States and Portugal have agreed to cooperate in development of renewable energy, particularly wave energy generation. U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Portuguese Economy Minister Manuel Pinho signed a memorandum of understanding outlining specific areas of cooperation, including the exchange of technical personnel, evaluations of downstream projects, and environmental testing and monitoring.

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