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Work proceeds on OPT installation at European marine center

Isleburn Ltd. of Inverness, Scotland, is performing steel fabrication work for the structure of Ocean Power Technologies' (OPT) Power Buoy wave generator, to be installed at the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) in the United Kingdom.

U.S.-based OPT awarded the contract for the steel fabrication work in July 2009. Isleburn is a full-service fabrication and engineering company for major offshore structures. Once steel fabrication is in complete, a 150-kW PowerBuoy is to be fully assembled and ready for deployment at EMEC by the end of 2009, OPT said.

OPT signed a berth agreement with EMEC in 2008, enabling the developer to install a 2-MW wave project at the test site in Scotland's Orkney Islands. OPT said the berth agreement provides for the 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.

Aquamarine places wave energy converter on ocean floor

Ocean energy developer Aquamarine Power Ltd. has bolted its Oyster wave energy converter to the ocean floor and expects to be generating power by the end of 2009. The unit is located off the north coast of Scotland in waters 10 to 12 meters deep.

In August 2009, a team of offshore professionals eased the 194-ton converter into the sea at the European Marine Energy Center in the Orkney Islands.

The Oyster unit is designed to capture energy from near-shore waves. The system includes an oscillating pump fitted with double-acting water pistons. Each wave activates the pump, delivering high-pressure water by pipeline to an onshore turbine that generates electricity.

Marine constructor Fugro Seacore installed the Oyster converter under a $2.9 million contract.

Langlee Wave Power and Unmaksan to build 24-MW system

Norwegian energy company Langlee Wave Power and Turkish energy company Unmaksan are building a 24-MW wave power system off the coast of Turkey. The exact location has not been determined.

The first phase of the project calls for a 120-kW pilot facility, which will eventually be developed into a 24-MW system comprised of 200 wave energy converters designed by Langlee. The unit operates just below the surface of the water and is anchored to the seabed. Each module consists of four steel buoyancy tubes surrounding two pairs of hinged water wings. Wave motion moves the wings, which drive a hydraulic system that powers electric generators.

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The Langlee Wave Power system to be installed off the coast of Turkey operates just below the surface of the water and is anchored to the seabed. The first phase of the project calls for a 120-kW pilot facility.

The US$169 million project will be built close to the shoreline in shallow water near existing distribution systems, the companies said. Unmaksan will build the project, and Langlee owns the licensing rights to the technology. Langlee said it expects to receive US$14.7 million in licensing fees from the project.

Trident Energy launching wave demonstration rig in 2009

Trident Energy in the United Kingdom plans to launch a demonstration rig containing its wave energy converter in the North Sea off the east coast of England in the second half of 2009.

The company's technology is called the Direct Energy Conversion Method. This technology consists of a rig structure anchored to the seabed, with floats placed in the ocean that rise and fall with wave motion. This movement drives linear generators that are mounted on the rig above each float. The control system also features a self-protection system in case of storms, says Steve Packard, chief executive officer of Trident Energy. This system automatically retracts the floats from the sea and stores them in protective towers above the water line.

Trident Energy plans to operate the demonstration rig for a year. The rig will contain eight generators and is forecasted to have a capacity of 20 to 25 kW in good sea conditions, Packard says.

The company will use the results from this deployment to develop the next phase of its wave technology. This work will involve increasing the size of the rig and the number of generators installed, with a goal of delivering a capacity of several megawatts.

The company plans to investigate the possibility of funding from the U.K.'s
Department of Energy and Climate Change's Marine Renewables Deployment Fund to support the pre-commercial phase of development of its technology.

U.K. names Wave Hub region the first Low Carbon Economic Area

The British government has named the South West of England — home of the Wave Hub ocean power test facility — the United Kingdom's first Low Carbon Economic Area. Lord Mandelson, secretary of State for Business, Innovation, and Skills, made the announcement in July 2009 at the launch of the government's Low Carbon Industrial Strategy in London.

With the announcement came the U.K.'s release of 19.5 million pounds (US$31.8 million) as part of a 100 million pound (US$163.4 million), two-year investment program in marine renewable energy being led by the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA).

The government money includes 9.5 million pounds (US$15.5 million) for the Wave Hub testing facility off England's Cornwall coast. Wave Hub's electrical “socket” on the seabed is to allow ocean energy developers to conduct large-scale testing of their equipment before going into commercial production. The additional 10 million pounds (US$16.3 million) from the British government is being made available to RDA to support other marine energy projects in the South West.

The European Regional Development Fund's Convergence Program also announced it will invest 20 million pounds (US$32.7 million) in Wave Hub.

Region gives consent to Wave Hub construction

RDA also announced in July 2009 its official approval allowing Wave Hub to proceed. An independent economic impact assessment commissioned by RDA found Wave Hub could create 1,800 jobs and generate 560 million pounds (US$915 million) in the U.K. economy over 25 years. Nearly 1,000 of those jobs and 332 million pounds (US$542 million) of that money would be generated in South West England, the study said.

The 42 million pound (US$68.6 million) Wave Hub is to be capable of supporting 20 MW of ocean energy, with the potential to increase to 50 MW.

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