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UK Gives Go-Ahead for Cornwall Wave Hub Project

Wavehub1
The Wave Hub primarily consists of  four Power Connection Units (PCUs) and the Termination and Distribution Unit (TDU).  Click to enlarge.

The UK Government has given planning approval for the Wave Hub Project off the coast of Cornwall in South West England. The £28 million (US$56 million) project, developed by the South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA), has now cleared its last major regulatory hurdle. Funding for the project has already been approved by the RDA.

The Wave Hub is a sea bed electricity “socket” 16 kilometers (10 miles) offshore connected to an onshore substation via a sub-sea cable. Companies developing wave energy technology will be able to plug into Wave Hub to test their wave energy devices on a large-scale basis before commercialization. Four companies have already been chosen to use Wave Hub.

Tdu
Rendering of a PCU. Click to enlarge.

The Wave Hub consists of a Termination and Distribution Unit (TDU) attached to four Power Connection Units (PCUs, transformers enclosed in protective casing), anchored to the seabed at approximately 50m depth. A single 33kV-20MVA cable will run from the Wave Hub to the shore, buried where possible. The cable will be buried through St Ives Bay into the beach close to Hayle, and then taken under the sand dunes to the substation site by means of directional drilling.

The TDU is a completely passive device. The PCUs contain metering facilities and a low voltage supply from an auxiliary transformer to supply control and signalling equipment. Each PCU comprises:

  • A 11kV circuit breaker that protects the transformer 11kV winding in the event of a fault on the 11kV cable and protects the 11kV cable in the event of a fault on the transformer 11 kV winding;

  • A 11/24 kV transformer that steps up the voltage output from the WECs to that suitable for transmission; and,

  • A 24kV circuit breaker that protects the transformer 24kV winding in the event of a fault on the 24kV cable and protects the 24kV cable in the event of a fault on the transformer 24kV winding.

The four participants already signed up are: Oceanlinx; Ocean Power Technologies Limited; Fred Olsen Limited; and WestWave, a consortium of E.On and Ocean Prospect Limited, using the Pelamis technology of Ocean Power Delivery Ltd.

The Wave Hub could provide an estimated 20 MW or renewable electricity when fully commissioned.

The Wave Hub project will cover an area of sea measuring four kilometers by two kilometers and each wave device developer will be granted a lease of between five and 10 years in an area of approximately two square kilometers.

Up to 30 wave energy devices are expected to be deployed at the Wave Hub and will float on the surface of the sea. The Wave Hub is expected to be operational in 2009.

Resources:

Comments

So this is just a test bed hub of electric circuits to support test wave energy generators. Oceanlinx is using a pneumatic turbine in which waves pump air into the turbine. Ocean Power Technologies Limited is using a point generator buoy in which wave moves the buoy up and down which pumps water into a hydraulic turbine. Fred. Olsen Limited is using a stationary platform with wave pumped floaters that pump hydraulic fluid into a generator. WestWave is using a Pelamis Wave Energy Converter: A giant snake like articulating structure which pumps hydraulic fluid to a generator. From Wave Hub we will get to see which of these systems can supply the most electricity per cost of construction and maintenance, and thus be the future of wave power.

Brad

this must be expensive as all hell. in order to wire all these things that far away from shore, i hate to think of the cost, but i suppose it's better than making windmills due to the more constant waves vs. wind

Brad

oh... dumb post... 56 million dollars is what it will cost. am i reading this wrong, or is this actually only going to provide 20 MW? for 56 million it doesn't seem that worth it.

Ben

Its $650Million to construct a 500MW coal power plant, or 1.3$/w, the wave hub will produce 2.8$/w, but a coal power plant must pay for coal: 20MW of coal cost ~$.5-3.5 million per year and will add .1$/w in price ever year, assuming wave power has negligible maintenance cost wave hub will equal the cost of a coal plant in 15 years. The price of wave power construction will also drop with mass production.

Mario

Gentlemen, I understand that US$56 million is the cost of the hub (transformers, cable, substations,...).
Cost of the generators are assumed by the four participants.

chillpill

Maybe if government subsidized more next generation clean technology and less for dirty coal plants the pricing would be more comparable. This is a step in the right direction if you ask me. Anyway, it's clean and sustainable and doesn't pump crap into our atmosphere. What's the true cost of that junk in our air and lungs and ecosystems?

Alain

Paying 56m$ to British workers is much, much cheaper than paying the same money for Brazilian coal (since much of that money will fast return to the treasury).

Eventually, wave power can be made much more scalable than windpower, because of much higher energy-density and much less environmental impact. The first windmills were not cost-competitive, actual-ones are. I am convinced wave-power will become cost-competitive very fast.

Alistair

Don't forget that this is a limited-scale testbed installation with the primary purpose of providing a live and realistic operating environment for testing and comparing various wave energy systems. It is not designed with maximum efficiency or cost-effectiveness of the overall installation as a primary goal. If you were to construct a system of twice the size, especially if it were based on a single generating technology, it would not cost twice as much.

economics of scale will make it much cheaper. at the moment, a large-scale windpower project being built off-shore in Belgium intends to produce 1TWh/year. The cost of the total projects (subsurface cables to the land included) is 800 milion euro's. this comes to 80 eurocent/kWh/year.
The combination of large towers (5MW) and many towers (60) together sharing the same cables, can lower the price per kWh. (www.C-power.be)
since the mills will produce electricity for at least 25 years, it comes at less than 2 eurocent/kWh for the initial investment. Compare this with an average electricity price of 10 eurocent/kWh for the end-user in europe. Again, the total investment is used to pay local workers and companies, compared to foreign fuel in the other cases.

sjc

If you think this is expensive, look into the cost of a deep sea oil platform. It is all how we want to spend our money, no matter if the money is in public or private hands. To continue to spend billions of dollars on deep sea oil platforms going forward may be very foolish.

Kerry Frost

I would like to discuss some of my machanical ideas on the subject because I have a vision of harnessing the masses of energy in the motions of sea. Whom and How do I
release these inventions of intergrated tidal energy converters in confidence. Please any advice or suggestions.
(kerry.frost@gmail.com)

Kerry Frost

I would like to discuss some of my machanical ideas on the subject because I have a vision of harnessing the masses of energy in the motions of sea. Whom and How do I
release these inventions of intergrated tidal energy converters in confidence. Please any advice or suggestions.
(kerry.frost@gmail.com)

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