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Wavegen activates prototype at Scotland wave project  

Project developer Wavegen is operating a new 100-kw turbine-generator at its 500-kw Limpet wave energy project on Islay Island in Scotland.

Jim Mather, Scotland’s minister for Enterprise, Energy, and Tourism, officially started the new unit in July 2008. Operating since 2000, Limpet (Land Installed Marine Powered Energy Transformer) uses oscillating water column (OWC) technology and is the only grid-connected OWC plant operating under commercial conditions.

Wavegen owner Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation said the turbine is the prototype for the proposed 4-mw Siadar Wave Energy Project on Lewis Island in the Hebrides Islands of Scotland. The Siadar project, being developed by Wavegen with npower renewables, is to be installed in a new breakwater, which would house the Wavegen turbines and provide a shelter and harbor facility for small craft. Once approval comes from the Scotland government, work could begin on that project in 2009.

Chile to create regional renewable energy center  

The government of Chile plans to create a renewable energy center to serve as a clearinghouse and sponsor of non-conventional renewable energy sources for Chile and South America.

Energy Minister Marcelo Tokman outlined the proposed Centro de Energias Renovables, saying President Michelle Bachelet plans to extend the center to include the union of South American nations, Union de Naciones Suramericanas, during her presidency of the organization. The minister said the center would help develop policies and programs to promote innovation and investigation of renewable technologies. It also is to help disseminate technological developments from other parts of the world.

Tokman said Chile and the region have great potential for renewable resources, citing examples including hydropower and tidal energy resources. He said it is necessary to identify the most suitable technologies for the South American region.

In March 2008, Bachelet signed a new energy law, requiring electric utilities to invest in, and supply up to 10 percent of their electricity from, non-conventional energy sources, including small hydro and ocean energy.

Ocean Power assumes berth at European marine center

Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) is installing a 2-mw wave project at the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) in Scotland’s Orkney Islands.

OPT previously said design was under way and some construction had begun on its PB150 PowerBuoy wave energy unit for deployment at EMEC. In 2007, the government of Scotland awarded OPT 598,000 pounds (US$1.16 million) for a 150-kw PowerBuoy, which moves up and down on a central spar as waves pass by.

In August 2008, OPT signed a berth agreement with EMEC. The agreement provides for deployment and operation of its PowerBuoys, as well as their connection to the wave energy berth’s dedicated 2-mw subsea cable already installed and connected to Scotland’s grid. The agreement also allows OPT to sell power to the grid up to 2 mw.

The developer said its first buoy is expected to be ready for grid connection at EMEC in 2009.

French utility to develop 4- to 6-mw Paimpol tidal

Electricite de France (EDF) plans to install three to six tidal power turbines off Paimpol, on France’s northern Brittany coast. EDF said the pilot scheme would be linked to the grid off Paimpol and would have a capacity of 4 to 6 mw by 2011.

The project is to involve an investment of 23 million to 27 million euros (US$36.7 million to US$43.1 million) that EDF will finance jointly with local and European authorities, a spokeswoman said.

The utility said Britain and France jointly have 80 percent of the potential for generating electricity from tidal currents in Europe, which it estimated at 10 million megawatt-hours per year.

Utilities across Europe are seeking to develop cleaner energy sources as part of a drive by the European Union to cut carbon dioxide emissions by one fifth by 2020, compared to 1990 levels (see HRW, July 2008, pages 14-16).

Developer plans wave farms in Bermuda

Wave energy developer Renewable Energy Holdings plc (REH) of the United Kingdom is working with Triton Renewable Energy Ltd. to build and operate wave farms in Bermuda.

REH said it and Bermuda-based Triton are negotiating a joint venture to build and operate wave farms pending regulatory approval. REH’s CETO wave power technology is to be employed at an initial test site of 2 mw, with plans for an eventual 20-mw grid-connected installation.

CETO features a wave power converter that sits on the seabed. It transmits high-pressure seawater ashore through a small pipe. The water is used either to power a turbine-generator or for reverse osmosis to produce fresh water. The CETO technology is in the final stages of testing, with commercial roll-out expected to begin in 2009.

Triton will provide services to facilitate development of wave farms, while REH grants rights to use CETO technology and provides engineering support during construction and operation of the plants. Negotiations are to be complete by the end of 2008, REH said.

REH said it is intended that the joint venture would supply electricity to a Bermuda utility, with the option of supplying desalinated water.

Pulse Tidal moving forward with 150-kw test project

Pulse Tidal Ltd. is developing the 150-kw Pulse Tidal prototype tidal power project in northeast England. Once installed in Humber Estuary near Hull this year, the prototype device will be connected to the United Kingdom grid through the Millennium Inorganic Chemicals plant on the south bank of the Humber. Sheffield-based Pulse Tidal said Millennium would become the first U.K. company to take a direct feed of electricity from tidal power.

United Kingdom Industry Minister John Hutton announced approval of planning permission for the project. Also, the project was awarded 878,000 pounds ($1.73 million) in public funding to develop the prototype in Humber Estuary.

Successfully tested at Hull University, the system uses high-performance hydrofoils similar to airplane wings that move up and down like whale tails, taking energy from tidal stream currents. A Pulse Tidal device can operate in only 5 meters of water, in shallow estuaries where tides tend to be the strongest.

If successful, the technology could be used to develop 1-mw units strung together in tidal power farms generating up to 100 mw.

Pelamis commissioning Agucadoura in Portugal

Scotland-based Pelamis Wave Power is in the process of commissioning three 750-kw P1-A wave energy units of the 2.25-mw Agucadoura wave farm off the northern coast of Portugal. The developer said it has permits in place and construction is completed for its clients, Portuguese renewable energy company Enersis and Australia-based investment fund Babcock and Brown.

Pelamis said the multiple units constitute both the world’s first multi-unit wave farm and the first commercial order for wave energy converters. It said Enersis also issued a letter of intent to Pelamis for another 20 mw of equipment to expand the Agucadoura project. It said development of the second phase is under way.

U.K.’s SeaGen tidal plant begins test generation

Marine Current Turbines’ (MCT) is testing its 1.2-mw SeaGen tidal energy system at Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough. MCT said the SeaGen plant briefly generated 150 kw off the Northern Ireland coast in July 2008 as part of testing prior to full commercial operation.

Strangford Lough has among the strongest tidal currents in United Kingdom and Irish waters. SeaGen works like an underwater windmill, with the rotors driven by tidal currents.

Once fully operational, SeaGen has a capacity of up to 1.2 mw, providing enough carbon-free electricity for about 1,000 homes.

ESB International, a unit of Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board (ESB), is investing 3 million pounds (US$5.9 million) in the SeaGen system. ESB’s retail subsidiary, ESB Independent Energy, signed a five-year power purchase agreement for all output of the Strangford Lough project.


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