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Wave Hub one step closer to deployment

The UK wave energy project Wave Hub is on course to be deployed this summer with fabrication of sub-sea cables and the hub itself nearing completion.

Wave Hub will create a test site for wave energy technology by building a grid-connected socket on the seabed, 10 miles off the coast of Cornwall, to which wave power devices can be connected and their performance evaluated.

The £42 million project has been developed by the South West RDA (Regional Development Agency).

Cabling

Hartlepool-based JDR Cable Systems is constructing the armoured 25km subsea cable that will connect Wave Hub to the National Grid, and the hub structure that will sit on the seabed. When complete, the 1300 tonne cable will be spooled directly onto a cable laying vessel.

The company is also making four 300 m ‘tails’ that will connect wave energy devices on or just below the surface of the sea back to Wave Hub.

The hub

Work is also well underway on the hub assembly. The hub is 2 m high and 6 m long, and will sit on the seabed in 50 m of water and be covered in several metres of rock.

The wave hub will provide a connection between the main cable from the shore and the tails leading to the wave energy devices, and will weigh around 12 tonnes when completed. A connection block inside will be filled with resin to ensure it remains watertight and the whole structure is designed to last at least 25 years.

First wave energy devices in 2011

Guy Lavender, Wave Hub’s General Manager at the South West RDA, says: “After seven years of planning it’s hugely satisfying to see the cable and hub actually taking shape.

“We’re on course for deployment this summer and extensive testing will take place before we welcome our first wave energy devices at Wave Hub, which we expect in 2011.

“The announcement in March by the Crown Estate of the first commercial licenses for wave energy deployment off the north coast of Scotland makes Wave Hub more relevant than ever because we can provide the industry with a grid-connected test facility on a scale not seen before, that it can use before commercial deployment.”

The economics

Wave Hub is being funded with £12.5 million from the South West RDA, £20m from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme and £9.5m from the UK Government.

An independent economic impact assessment has calculated that Wave Hub could create 1800 jobs and inject £560m in the UK economy over 25 years.

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