Developer set to unveil wave power prototype
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