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Update on work progress at EMEC in Scotland

ScottishPower Renewables has completed initial testing of a 1 MW underwater turbine in the tidal waters near Orkney, Scotland, paving the way for a future 10 MW array in the Sound of Islay.

During its test phase at the European Marine Energy Centre, ScottishPower Renewables demonstrated that its HS1000 tidal turbine — developed by Andritz Hydro Hammerfest and partners Iberdola and Hammerfest Energi — could endure the rigors required for permanent installations.

"The performance of the first HS1000 device has given us great confidence so far," says ScottishPower Renewables Chief Executive Officer Keith Anderson. "Engineers were able to install the device during atrocious weather conditions, and it has been operating to a very high standard ever since."

The company gained approval for its 10 MW tidal array from the Scottish government in March 2011 but has not yet announced when work on the array will begin.

Meanwhile, in March, EMEC filled the last remaining berth at its wave energy testing site. European energy company Vattenfall secured the site and will begin testing a single Pelamis Wave Power machine in 2014.

 
Vattenfall plans to begin testing a Pelamis Wave Power machine, such as the one pictured here, at European Marine Energy Centre's test site in Scotland in 2014.

Vattenfall says it will purchase the machine from Edinburgh-based PWP later this year if it is confident PWP could make progress with its ocean energy development proposal, known as Aegir.

PWP announced a joint venture between it and Vattenfall earlier this year, although Vattenfall says progress on Aegir is, in part, predicated on a transmission cable being laid between the Shetland Islands and Scottish mainland. Such a line is essential for testing should the utility want to use the Aegis units for commercial energy production.

SSE, transmission operator in the north of Scotland, has said it would construct such a high-voltage direct current cable once there was sufficient generation capacity to justify the investment.

Pending successful testing of the Aegis unit at EMEC, Vattenfall says the machine will be taken to Shetland and in time be joined by more than nine additional machines.

HAE planning 1 MW tidal project in South Africa

Ocean power developer Hydro Alternative Energy Inc. plans to develop a 1 MW hydrokinetic project with South African municipality eThekwini. The municipality, near Durbin, will install one of HAE's Oceanus tidal units at a cost of US$20 million. The unit will generate electricity using the Agulhas Current, which flows past the city.

"The Agulhas is one of the most consistent currents in the world," says eThekwini Municipality Energy Unit representative Derek Morgan. "So, if the ocean current generation was to happen, Durban would be an ideal location to start harnessing it."

HAE says additional units, each with an anticipated capacity of 8 MW, could subsequently be installed about 30 meters below sea level. Discussions between HAE representatives and local government officials concerning such a project are ongoing. Prior discussions between HAE, eThekwini Municipality and the Durban Investment Promotion Agency led to an investment facilitation letter by the deputy city manager of eThekwini Municipality that confirms the municipality's in-principle support for HAE's planned power generation system project, to be undertaken in stages.

The first stage involves HAE's identification of suitable sites in the Agulhas current to install and moor offshore power generation systems. HAE then plans to request environmental permits from the National Department of Environmental Affairs and that a power generation license be issued by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa for one or more units after the production and testing of a non-power-producing demonstration unit.

In other news, HAE signed a memorandum of understanding in May with renewable energy developer Energreen SA de C.V of Mexico to partner in developing hydrokinetic projects.

The intent of the MOU is for HAE and Energreen to partner in developing one or many offshore hydrokinetic projects that would provide Mexico with additional renewable electric power generation capacity. HAE is focusing on "utilizing hydrokinetic and other power development resources to generate electric power worldwide," according to a company release.

Aquamarine Power recognized for ocean power technologies

The European Commission has awarded hydrokinetic energy developer Aquamarine Power first prize in the product category of its European Business Awards for the Environment for the company's Oyster wave technology. Aquamarine Power received the award at the Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels last week as part of the commission's annual conference on environmental policy.

The awards are given to companies that combine innovation, competitiveness and outstanding environmental performance. Aquamarine was selected from a field of more than 150 entrants and first had to compete at the national level before being selected to compete at the European level.

The Scotland-based company says it was selected for developing a product that makes "an outstanding contribution to sustainable development."

In March, two of Aquamarine's Oyster wave energy converters had been installed as part of the European Marine Energy Centre off the coast of Orkney, Scotland. Combined, Aquamarine Power's units will contribute 2.4 MW at the site.

Carnegie, Triton complete study of hydrokinetic unit

Australian hydrokinetic power developer Carnegie Wave Energy has completed a year-long study that demonstrates the viability of a commercial ocean power project in Bermuda.

Carnegie and partner Triton Renewable Energy of Bermuda signed a memorandum of understanding in 2008 to develop the demonstration project, which was deployed off Bermuda's south shore in April 2011.

The demonstration featured Carnegie's CETO technology. The system uses the vertical motion of waves to drive a pump, which delivers pressurized water to an onshore turbine via a submerged pipeline.

Carnegie says the Bermuda complex could eventually provide a capacity of as much as 20 MW, which would help ease the island-nation's reliance on imported fuels.

Carnegie recently secured a US$10.3 million grant from the Australian government to fund a similar project near Perth in Western Australia.

In May Carnegie secured the grant from the federal government to support its $32 million grid-connected CETO project that will be located at Garden Island, near Perth in Western Australia. The Western Australian government provided US$5.6 million for the project as part of the state's low emissions energy development program.

The wave energy developer is also reporting that it secured US$16.5 million equity funding from the Australian Special Opportunity Fund, a U.S.-based institutional investor to support the project, Energy Business Review says. The project is set to have a capacity of 2 MW, and power is due to be added to the grid by the end of 2013. The project can be expanded to 5 MW at a later stage.

Kongsberg Maritime wins contract for Meygen tidal stream project

Kongsberg Maritime Ltd. has received a contract to conduct underwater noise assessment studies for an offshore renewable energy project that could eventually lead to some 400 MW of new renewable energy capacity being installed in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth.

The contract, awarded by MeyGen Limited, will involve Kongsberg Maritime conducting baseline and operational noise measurements from prototype tidal devices to assess the potential effects of underwater noise on marine life.

David Shand, general manager offshore at Kongsberg Maritime, says, "This is a major contract for Kongsberg Maritime Ltd. as the MeyGen tidal stream project is one of the most significant tidal initiatives in Europe. MeyGen is monitoring progress of turbine suppliers who are trialing their devices at the European Marine Energy Centre. The results of the underwater noise impact studies being carried out by Kongsberg Maritime Ltd at EMEC will affect how the devices are positioned on the seabed, to deliver optimum power while having minimal impact on marine life."

The tidal stream project could lead to 400 MW being installed by 2020. The project is located in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth.

Scottish, Japanese ocean power groups ink deal for collaboration

Representatives from the European Marine Energy Centre have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ocean Energy Association of Japan to develop a marine energy test center in Japan.

As per the memorandum, EMEC will assist the Japanese Marine Energy Centre through the design, set-up and operation phases. The partnership is prompted largely by Japan's need for alternative energy generation schemes that don't rely on nuclear power or fossil fuels, EMEC says. An exact location for the test site has not been determined, although it will resemble the one EMEC established in 2003 off the Scottish coast.

Wave, tidal need government investment, says RenewableUK

Green energy advocate RenewableUK says the UK and Scotland must increase their investments in wave and tidal power in order for the energy sector to ever reach its full potential, according to a recent report.

The report, titled "Marine Energy in the UK," says the two governments have thus far provided less than a third of the US$191 million RenewableUK estimates it will take for ocean power to achieve "full-scale commercial development."

The study says that for every dollar of public funding invested, more than $9 in private funding will be unlocked.

"One step the government could take is to allow the Green Investment Bank to support wave and tidal projects at an early stage," says David Krohn, RenewableUK's wave and tidal development manager. "It's frustrating that ministers have not yet identified marine energy as a priority sector for the GIB."

A commitment to ocean power could equate to 10,000 new jobs by 2020, the report says, although RenewableUK notes that those jobs could go abroad should the UK fail to maintain its current position in the sector.

"An overly cautious approach could allow other countries to steal the UK's lead, so it's vital that the Scottish and UK governments build on the good work they've already done by supporting the development of these industries," says Maria McCaffery, RenewableUK chief executive.

The organization says the UK has 7.665 MW of wave and tidal energy installed, although the UK government's Renewable Energy Roadmap sets a target of 300 MW by 2020.

Andritz obtains majority stake in ocean power manufacturer

International technology company Andritz has obtained a majority share in Norwegian ocean power producer Hammerfest Strom AS.

Andritz increased its share from 33.3% to 55.4% and will operate the company under the name Andritz Hydro Hammerfest. Other major shareholders include Norwegian utility Hammerfest Energi and Spanish utility Iberdrola.

England's Isle of Wight hoping to construct tidal power testing facility

The Isle of Wight Council wants to construct a multi-million-dollar tidal energy facility off St. Catherine's Point, the BBC reports.

The council has already pledged US$1.5 million to what it's calling the Solent Ocean Energy Centre, and that pledge has been matched by investments from the private sector.

The money will be used to fund Phase I of the plan, which includes the project's licenses and consents. Phase II calls for construction of a test bed and demonstration site, although governmental applications to receive the estimated $33.2 million in funding required were denied in 2011.

Financing the project now falls on the private sector, sources report, although organizers say as many as a dozen companies have agreed to invest in principal. The Isle of Wight Council says it hopes to have equipment at the site by 2014.

DCNS, Port of Normandy Authority sign MOU for new tidal site

Representatives from the Basse-Normandie Region, Ports of Normandy Authority and naval technologies manufacturer DCNS have signed a memorandum of understanding that allocates areas of the Port of Cherbourg in France for tidal turbine operations.

Under the agreement, space will be reserved for DCNS on the Quai des Flamands inside the Port of Cherbourg. The company says an additional agreement will be drafted within a year to finalize financial arrangements and adjust the perimeter of previously allocated areas.

"Allocating several hectares of space to DCNS at the Port of Cherbourg is a clear sign that we support the development of full-scale renewable industry in Basse-Normandie," Basse-Normandie Region President Laurent Beauvais says.

DCNS says operations could begin as early as 2014, with the establishment of an industrial facility to fabricate, install and maintain the tidal turbines.

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