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Wave power units to Portugal

March 31, 2006, 12:00 CEST

Three wave energy converters have now been shipped from western Scotland to Portugal, where they will be part of the world's first commercial wave energy farm. Hydro Technology Ventures has invested in the wave power technology developed by the company Ocean Power Delivery.

Edinburgh-based Ocean Power Deliveries (OPD) signed a contract last year with a Portuguese consortium, led by Enersis, one of Portugal's leading renewable energy companies, to build the initial phase of the world’s first commercial wave farm to generate renewable electricity from ocean waves.

Waves and wind

"OPD's project is especially exciting as it has the only commercially sized wave energy converter in the world today," says Hydro Technology Ventures director, Richard George Erskine.

Phase one of the project consists of three 750kW units, called Pelamis, with a combined rating of 2.25MW. A letter of intent has also been issued to order 28 additional Pelamis machines before the end of 2006, subject to satisfactory performance of the initial phase. When the eventual complete project is finished, it will provide electricity to more than 15,000 Portuguese households and displace more than 60,000 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide emissions from a conventional fossile fuel power generation plant.

The converters are being delivered to the Port of Peniche, Portugal, where they will undergo final assembly prior to commissioning and installation later this year some five kilometers off the coast of northern Portugal, near Póvoa de Varzim.

"We are delighted to have reached this important milestone and look forward to installing and commissioning the project in Portugal this summer," says OPD managing director Richard Yemm.

He adds that Portugal has been quick to prioritize exploitation of its wave energy resource and to recognize the commercial opportunity that it represents. The Portuguese government has put in place a feeder market that pays a premium price for electricity generated from waves compared to more mature technologies.

The Portuguese government measure encourages commercial investment in the early stage of such energy projects, crucial to moving the technology forward.

The same approach is used to stimulate wind industry investment in Denmark and Germany. The wind industry now has a collective turnover of more than EUR 12 billion a year and employs 60,000 people worldwide.