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Iberdrola Renewables Begins Testing Wave Energy Plant in Spain

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.



A small start ... but a very welcome one.


If you scatter thousands of these boys on the sea you will need a incredible amount of cables to collect the current that would transform the area in a kind of spider web where no boat will be allowed to cuise. That is clearly unacceptable around the coastline as far as my experience of sailor tell me. Ok the cables can plunge verticaly down to the bottom of the sea to connect to a main cable but then the cost in cable will be overhelming not mentionning the cost to deploy it. Deploying cable in sea is horrendously expensive (I know since I used to work in submarine optical telecommunication cable). Also wave have an important role in the marine ecosystem, oxygenating and shaping sea shores. Slowing the waves will kill local sea streams and will probably have serious consequences. Not sure this a good idea, too much environmental impact for the amount of energy it can returns.


Treehugger: I think you're reaching a little on this one. So far we're talking about 4 of these producing 3 MW. Thousands of these would produce GWs of power. As for being a hindrance to navigation, I don't see how this would be any different than having an island there, just go around it. It would take thousands of these to have any effect whatsoever on ocean currents and wave patterns. You might even find the changes are beneficial to some species.


woops, and 10 bouys in Santona in addition to the ones off of the Orkneys.


I always thought that these would work fabulously anchored to the base of offshore wind turbines. There would be a savings in anchoring, a big savings in cabling, and any nav restrictions would serve both the turbine and wave generator.
It also seems that areas with alot of wind would have alot of waves.


One of the projects I saw used waves to pump sea water up onto elevation on land and did a hydro electric generation back out to sea.


The great thing about this is that the energy recoverable is in direct relationship to the density of the medium you are trying to extract energy from. This means that you don't need a huge area to extract sizable amounts of electricity.

Any little bit helps. Hope it proves workable.

John Taylor

Having wave power stations at the breakwater of harbors would reduce wave damage and improve the navigation channels.

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