Devel­oper set to un­veil wave power pro­to­type

Western Mail - - BUSINESS IN WALES - Chris Kelsey chris.kelsey@waleson­line.co.uk

WALES will take a ma­jor step to­wards get­ting power from the waves to­day when a pro­to­type wave en­ergy de­vice is un­veiled in Pem­broke Dock.

Nine years in the mak­ing, WaveSub has been de­vel­oped by Ma­rine Power Sys­tems (MPS), a wave power tech­nol­ogy devel­oper based in Swansea.

It op­er­ates by cap­tur­ing wave en­ergy off­shore, har­ness­ing the con­tin­ual cir­cu­lar mo­tion of waves to drive a so­phis­ti­cated power-take-off sys­tem.

The power gen­er­ated is trans­ferred to land by an un­der­sea ca­ble. At fullscale, a WaveSub de­vice mea­sur­ing 100 me­tres long, rated at 5MW, could power 5,000 homes. This is a sim­i­lar power out­put to a large off-shore wind tur­bine.

Its depth can be ad­justed to shelter it from storms, min­imis­ing the stress put on the de­vice and al­low­ing it to keep gen­er­at­ing at an op­ti­mum level in a broad range of sea states.

To­day’s un­veil­ing of the quar­ter scale pro­to­type marks the start of a pe­riod of sea-based tri­als for the de­vice.

Fol­low­ing its un­veil­ing, the WaveSub will be towed to the award-win­ning FaBTest site in Corn­wall, where MPS will demon­strate its power-gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity across a broad range of sea con­di­tions.

Dr Gareth Stock­man, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ma­rine Power Sys­tems, said: “Thanks to its unique en­ergy cap­ture ca­pa­bil­i­ties, re­silience and trans­porta­bil­ity we be­lieve the WaveSub can bring down the cost of wave power and help po­si­tion the global re­new­able en­ergy in­dus­try to source 10% of its elec­tric­ity from wave power by 2050.”

He added: “With con­tin­ued in­vest­ment from public and pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions, Wales can be­come a lead­ing light in the ma­rine re­new­ables sec­tor, bring­ing skilled jobs for many towns here and across the rest of the UK.”

Wave power rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity for clean re­new­able en­ergy sup­ply. The UK trade body Re­new­able UK es­ti­mates that wave and tidal en­ergy has the po­ten­tial to de­liver 20% of the UK’s present elec­tric­ity needs at a 30GW to 50GW in­stalled ca­pac­ity.

The Welsh ma­rine sec­tor, in which MPS is a key player, is par­tic­u­larly well set for growth. Ma­rine En­ergy Wales re­ported in March that ma­rine de­vel­op­ers ac­tive in Wales will in­vest £1.4bn over the next five years if the right in­cen­tives are in place for re­new­able en­ergy.

It fol­lows a re­cent £76m in­vest­ment in a ma­rine en­ergy cen­tre around Mil­ford Haven.

Along with the en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of cut­ting CO2 emis­sions and help­ing to meet cli­mate change tar­gets glob­ally, com­mit­ting to a long-term wave power vi­sion could pro­vide Wales with jobs, en­ergy re­silience and the as­so­ci­ated eco­nomic ben­e­fits from be­ing a leader in a new re­new­able en­ergy sec­tor.

Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Mark Drake­ford said: “Ma­rine en­ergy is a sec­tor where Wales is well placed to be a lead­ing player, and we are mak­ing sub­stan­tial long-term in­vest­ments to put us at the fore­front of in­no­va­tion in this field.

“The un­veil­ing of the WaveSub pro­to­type is a very ex­cit­ing mile­stone for this sec­tor in Wales. This is the cul­mi­na­tion of cut­ting edge re­search and de­vel­op­ment tak­ing place in Swansea and spe­cial­ist engi­neer­ing in Pem­brokeshire, backed by al­most £3m of EU and Welsh Gov­ern­ment fund­ing.”

MPS has de­vel­oped the WaveSub us­ing over £5m of fund­ing that it has se­cured through pri­vate in­vest­ment and grants, in­clud­ing a re­search de­vel­op­ment and in­no­va­tion grant from the Welsh Gov­ern­ment, as well as a £2.5m grant from the Euro­pean Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Fund.

Once the quar­ter scale pro­to­type test­ing is un­der way, MPS will open its doors to a new round of in­vest­ment to see it through to full-scale WaveSub com­mer­cial de­ploy­ment.

> A CGI image of WaveSub, a wave en­ergy de­vice de­vel­oped by Ma­rine Power Sys­tems, which will be un­veiled in Pem­broke Dock to­day

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