(PhysOrg.com) -- A wave energy generation test site called the "Wave Hub" is being set up off Cornwall’s northern coast. The site is the first offshore wave energy site in the UK, and will allow four wave energy generator systems, with a total capacity of 20 MW, to be evaluated simultaneously.
The $64 million project consists of a sub-station at Hayle in Cornwall, from which a cable has now been laid under the sand dunes and across the sea bed to the wave generation area 16 km offshore, where the energy generators will be moored. The area covers eight square kilometers, and is marked by navigational markers.
The subsea cable, socket, and four 300 meter “tails” of the Wave Hub have been lowered into position on the sea bed 55 meters below the surface, and work has begun on laying 80,000 tonnes of rock on top of the cable to keep it in place. Each of the four tail cable "berths" can be connected to up to a different wave energy conversion device.
The first wave generator developer to be signed up for the scheme is US company Ocean Power Technologies Limited (OPT), which will connect its PowerBuoy wave energy converter to one of the tail berths early next year.
Other companies expected to become involved are WestWave, Fred Olsen Limited and Oceanlinx. Each developer will lease a two square kilometer area of sea bed for a period of about five years, and will be able to generate a maximum of 4-5 MW of power, which will be sold and transmitted to the electricity distribution grid as the Wave Hub evaluates the efficiency of each device.
Executive director Stephen Peacock of the South West RDA said the project had been over seven years in the making, and will “catapult south-west England and the UK to the forefront of wave energy development.” The project is also expected to create hundreds of “quality” jobs in the region.
Guy Lavender, the Wave Hub general manager at RDA said the fact the project was designed and built in the UK was testimony to the skills already present in the UK in the field of marine renewable energy.
The UK’s south west is an ideal location for the Wave Hub, according to Lord Hunt, minister for energy and climate change, because it is the first low-carbon economic area in the UK and there is a great deal of expertise in the region in marine technologies. Science minister David Willetts said the UK is already an industry leader, with 25 percent of global wave and tidal technologies being developed there, and the Wave Hub scheme could create thousands of jobs over the next few decades.
The Wave Hub was funded by the UK government, the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA) and the Convergence Programme, run by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Explore further: Blue Freedom uses power of flowing water to charge