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Alstom and SSE plan 200MW wave-power project off Scotland

Alstom and SSE plan 200MW wave-power project off Scotland

French power equipment giant Alstom and Scottish developer SSE Renewables plan to jointly build a wave-energy farm of up to 200MW in the waters north of Scotland’s Orkney Islands.

The Costa Head project, which the partners are billing as the world’s largest wave-power development, will use AWS-III devices from technology group  AWS Ocean Energy.

Phase one of the development, located in water depths of 60-75 metres in the UK Crown Estate’s Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Strategic Area, will involve a 10MW array which could be installed as early as 2016.

Alstom and SSE plan to have the fully built-out wave farm up and running by the end of 2020.

The 2.5MW AWS-III system is a 12-sided wave-riding machine made up of a ring of flexible diaphragms, each measuring around 16-metres-wide by 8-metres-deep, arranged around a structure with overall beam of up to 60 metres.

As swells pass under the device, compressed air is forced through turbines activating attached generators to produce electricity.

The device, which will have structural steel weight of 1,300 tonnes, is designed to be slack-moored in water depths of 65-150 metres using standard mooring spreads.

Each AWS-III will be connected to a central offshore substation via a high-voltage umbilical link.

The technology has evolved from the company’s Archimedes Wave Swing concept, which was first trialled off Portugal in 2004.

AWS installed a 1/9 scale version of the device in Scotland’s Loch Ness in 2010 for a four-month testing programme.

“We firmly believe that the AWS-III will become the established choice for utility-scale offshore wave power generation,” says AWS chief executive Simon Grey.

Detailed surveys and an environmental impact assessment of the Costa Head site are due to be carried out by Alstom and SSE.

Component testing will start this year with the support of the Scottish Enterprise-administered ‘Waters’ wave and tidal energy research and demonstration fund.

A full-scale prototype is planned for deployment at the European Marine Energy Centre in 2014.

Alstom last June took a 40% stake in AWS – marking the French multinational’s first investment in wave-energy technology.

“When completed, [Costa Head] will make a valuable contribution to the UK’s renewable energy targets,” says Alstom Renewable Power president Jérôme Pécresse.

“This project places Alstom at the forefront of the fast-developing ocean energy sector along with our offshore wind and tidal-energy businesses.”

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