Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Two new advances for Britain's offshore energy industry

Photo (cc) A prototype of Sea Wave Energy Ltd's Waveline device being tested at Plymouth University.
A new invention for harnessing wave power more efficiently, and plans to turn a former oil industry fabrication yard into a manufacturing site for offshore wind, are being announced today.
Inventor Adamos Zakheos has formed a new company, Sea Wave Energy Ltd (SWEL) to bring to market his invention, the Waveline Magnet device, which has completed successful trials demonstrating a high level of energy conversion efficiency and a cost-effective manufacturing process.
Tests carried out on a prototype nine metre device in Larnaca Bay, Cyprus, by marine energy staff from the University of Exeter, have shown that it is not only suited to generating electricity but could have additional commercial applications relating to seawater desalination and combatting coastal erosion by de-powering the waves.
It can also be manufactured more cheaply than its competitors, says Zakheos. He calculates that 1MW of power can be achieved for less than £1.5m, as opposed to about £5m per MW that is a typical value in marine energy renewables.
“As the sea is a very hostile environment, most marine energy developers design heavy displacement devices in order to withstand the stormy conditions. We have done exactly the opposite. Our Waveline Magnet device is buoyancy-neutral and adheres to the surface of the water, so it follows precisely the contour of the wave as the wave passes ‘through’ the device,” he said.
The device has most recently been tested in March in the Wave Tank at Plymouth University, where it delivered in excess of 1.3kW on a wave set duration of 2.5 seconds, at a wave height of just 60cm (two feet).
The company plans to construct a full size device for deployment at Wavehub, the world’s largest grid connected test facility near Hayle in Cornwall, and is seeking additional investment to carry this breakthrough technology forward.
Offshore wind manufacturing port
Meanwhile, at the other end of the country, the Port of Ardersier has submitted plans to Highland Council, Marine Scotland and Transport Scotland for transforming the port into a major European manufacturing site for the offshore wind industry.
With 138 hectares (340 acres) of vacant land and a deep water quay, the purpose-built yard, located on the Moray Firth, 15 miles east of Inverness, hopes to take a slice of the estimated £70-80bn UK offshore wind construction market.
There are very few deep water ports around the North Sea with this quantity of vacant manufacturing space, more than three times the size of London’s Olympic stadium site, dedicated solely to renewables.
The site is close to the first-generation deep water offshore wind sites in the firths of Moray, Tay and Forth.
If approved, major dredging would begin later this year, and it could be open for business in early 2014.
The backers hope that the £4.5bn Moray offshore wind farm, currently being developed jointly by EDP Renewables and Repsol Nuevas Energias UK, could alone bring up to 3,000 jobs to the region.
Welcoming the news, Port of Ardersier chief executive officer Captain Stephen Gobbi said: “There are few other locations in the UK, or indeed Europe, which can offer this quality and quantity of vacant land, a 1,000 metre deep water quay and proximity to the major offshore wind development zones in the North Sea".
Earlier this year Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond announced a memorandum of understanding between Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Port of Ardersier, which recognises the port’s capacity to become one of the key manufacturing, construction and installation hubs for projects such as Moray.
The site was once used for building North Sea oil and gas platforms and at its height employed 4,500 people.