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Give us a wave

Ocean Energy has been selected as the supplier of the first device for a €50 million UK
offshore marine energy test site.

Ocean Energy has been selected as the supplier of the first device for a €50 million UK offshore marine energy test site

Irish wave energy company, Ocean Energy Limited, has landed a major landmark deal to provide the world’s largest grid connected offshore marine energy test site, Wave Hub in Cornwall, with its first multi-million Euro energy device.

Wave Hub consists of a giant ‘socket’ on the seabed connected to the national grid on shore by an underwater cable, into which wave energy devices can be ‘plugged’ and tested on a scale not seen before. The project has four berths available and a capacity of 20MW; equivalent to the electricity needs of more than 7,000 homes.

Wave Hub is publicly-owned by the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) which has set-up a stand-alone operating company, Wave Hub Limited, based in Hayle, Cornwall, to manage the day-to-day operation of the testing facility on its behalf.

Ocean Energy expects to deploy its first full-scale device costing €9 million at Wave Hub off the north coast of Cornwall by the end of this year. The company has been testing a quarter scale prototype of its OE Buoy in Galway Bay for three years.

OE Buoy uses the oscillating water column principle. As waves enter a subsea chamber they force air through a turbine on the surface, generating electricity. As the waves recede they cause a vacuum, drawing air back through the turbine.

Ocean Energy’s technology means that the turbine rotates continuously regardless of the direction of the airflow. This improves efficiency and means it only has one moving part; minimising maintenance costs.

With its technology partner Dresser-Rand, the largest service provider in the oil and gas industry, Ocean Energy was one of a number of companies competing for the opportunity to win the Wave Hub contract. The full-scale unit has the capacity to generate sustainable energy to power up to 1,200 homes.

Wave Hub will fund Ocean Energy’s deployment costs up to a maximum of £1 million (€1.2 million). This includes the cost of securing a marine licence and installation of moorings and deployment.

John McCarthy, Chief Executive and co-founder of Ocean Energy said: “This is a major achievement for Irish technology, which has been developed with the assistance of Irish government funding and expertise at the UCC Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre. It is also an endorsement of the technology development path adopted by Ocean Energy.”

Wave Hub General Manager Claire Gibson added: “I am pleased to confirm our partnership with Ocean Energy Limited and look forward to assisting them with their deployment at Wave Hub later this year.

Ocean Energy has completed three years of prototype testing in energetic sea conditions and is ready to make the next step to Wave Hub with a full-scale device. If the testing goes well we expect to see Ocean Energy deploy an array of devices at Wave Hub.”

According to a recent study by SEAI – Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland – the Irish wave energy industry has the potential to employ 50,000 people by 2030 and could generate over four times the current installed capacity or 30,000 MW of power. Denmark is currently the world leader in wind energy development and earns €6 billion annually from the industry.

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