Iberdrola Renewables has begun the testing of a wave energy pilot plant in Santoña, Cantabria, Spain which will become the first of this kind to be installed in Europe.
The company has begun on-shore testing of the operation of the internal components of the first PowerBuoys from Ocean Power Technologies (OPT). OPT’s PowerBuoy wave generation system uses the rise and fall of waves to move a piston-like structure inside the buoy column to pump hydraulic fluid that drives a generator anchored on the ocean floor. Generated power is transmitted ashore via an underwater power cable.
The tests consist of the inspection of the components, evaluation of the individual functions of each of the systems and a final resistance test, in which the units are inter-connected and the real operating conditions the buoy will have to face in the sea are simulated, at varying surge intensities.
The company will conclude the buoy testing phase this month and then deploy of the buoy out to the sea, depending on weather conditions, with the goal of going operational the first half of this year.
The installation will be located four kilometers from the coast of Santoña and will comprise 10 buoys. In a first phase a 10-meter, 40 kW buoy will be anchored to the seabed some 50 meters down. The remaining nine buoys, planned for a later phase, will have an initial capacity of 125 kW. When all 10 buoys are in operation, the electricity produced will be the approximate equivalent to the domestic consumption of some 2,500 homes.
The joint company that is developing the plant, named Iberdrola Energías Marinas de Cantabria, S.A., is owned by the Iberdrola Renewables (60%), TOTAL (10%), OPT (10%), the IDEA Institute for Energy Diversification and Savings (10%), and the Sodercan Cantabria Development Society (10%). The budget for the first phase, which includes the marine electrical infrastructure, comes to some €3 million (US$4.6 million).
In addition to the Santoña Wave Energy Project, Iberdrola is developing a wave energy plant off the Orkney islands in the north of Scotland, which will become the world’s largest by installed capacity (3 MW). This complex will comprise four floating Pelamis generators (earlier post) with a capacity of 750 kW each.