- Pelamis Wave Power (PWP) developed and manufactured the world's first offshore wave power machine to generate electricity into the grid.
- It has been working with the Carbon Trust since 2004 to optimise its product and boost returns
- PWP has now sold machines to E.ON and Scottish Power and are working with them on commercial trials at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.
Pelamis Wave Power (PWP) was responsible for launching the world's first commercially available machine for generating wave energy. Two of its machines have been sold to E.ON and Scottish Power which will undergo trials off the coast of Scotland that it is anticipated will act as the springboard for larger scale commercial projects.
A key focus for mass deployment is to increase annual energy yield and to reduce costs. The ability to install and remove machines quickly and inexpensively for maintenance purposes minimises 'waiting on weather' and increases accessibility.
PWP is working with the Carbon Trust on innovative ways to achieve these aims and in doing so is playing a key role in helping the UK become a world leader in wave energy generation.
The Carbon Trust estimates the UKs wave energy potential at 50 TWh/year, generating annual revenues of £2 billion by 2050 and up to 16,000 direct jobs. The UK well placed to take advantage of the emerging market. Not only do the seas that surround us have a high tidal range and high wave energy, the UK is home to some of the world's leading marine energy science, engineering and device companies.
To minimise costs and risks to personnel working offshore, maintenance of wave power machines is best carried out 'off site' at an onshore maintenance base. If this can be done quickly and in as wide a range of sea states as possible, 'waiting on weather' is reduced, improving machine availability, energy yield and economic return.
Linked to this is the continued drive to simplify installation and maintenance procedures to enable use of standard vessels and equipment at much lower cost than other solutions which may require specialist equipment, divers and manual intervention.
PWP has overcome the challenge by developing a new remotely operated quick connect/disconnect system for maintenance and installation with its own electro-hydraulic power pack. This removes the need for maintenance teams to have an umbilical power supply from the installation vessel to the connection system. By implementing this system PWP has demonstrated that the maintenance costs of a multi-machine wave farm could be reduced by 40% driving a significant increase in returns.
Working with the Carbon Trust
Carbon Trust has been working with PWP for a number of years. Between 2004-2006, the Carbon Trust, alongside other venture capital and corporate investors, invested in PWP enabling it to develop its early designs for a wave energy device into a prototype model.
Between 2003-2006 PWP was one of a group of front running developers who worked with CT to establish the economics and engineering challenges of wave and tidal energy - this study set the framework for future Carbon Trust innovation programmes. In 2007-8, PWP received support through the Carbon Trust Marine Energy Accelerator which helped develop technology to reduce maintenance and installation cost (described above). More recently PWP was one of six front running technology to receive support from the MRPF.
Max Carcas, Business Development Director from PWP said:
"With a new technology, relatively small investments can drive innovation leading to step changes in the cost of energy delivered, in a way that is just not possible with more mature forms of generation. The work we have done with the Carbon Trust has demonstrated this, and this can be seen in other sectors.
For example the cost of electricity generated from coal in the twenties cost more than ten times what it does today. In the wind sector a similar process of innovation and market deployment has led to generating costs falling by 80% over the past 30 years. Denmark had the foresight to invest early on and is now reaping the benefits of this by exporting several billion pounds worth of turbines per year in a market growing at more than twenty per cent per annum. We have a similar opportunity in wave energy but only if we as a country prioritise the investment required to produce this return."
Download Pelamis Wave Power case study (PDF)