Pelamis Wave Power, the world’s most advanced wave energy company, has secured an agreement for lease from The Crown Estate to develop a wave farm, large enough to power some 7,000 houses
on average – more than meeting the average electricity requirements of Stornoway.
The 10MW lease is for a site located off the west coast of Lewis near the Island of Bernera, and with construction targeted for 2015, it would become the Western Isles’ first ever commercial wave farm.
The timing coincides with planned grid upgrades to the Island and the completion of pre-commercial development of Pelamis technology in Orkney by utility customers E.ON and ScottishPower
The proposed Bernera Wave Farm will consist of up to 14 Pelamis machines and will be located between one and ten kilometres from the shore. The site itself is some 100-square kilometres in size, which allows Pelamis to narrow the location for the final wave farm, which will only occupy roughly two square kilometres once built, by conducting site investigations and consultations with local sea users and stakeholders.
It is estimated that the waters around the Outer Hebrides could have as much as 20 per cent of Europe’s total wave resource, making the Western Isles one of the best wave resources in the world.
Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), said: “The Outer Hebrides are the jewel in the crown of Scotland’s marine energy resource. As a community we are committed to encouraging the development of wave power in this area.
“Pelamis Wave Power has a unique track record of attracting utility customers and investment into this sector. We welcome their continued commitment to the Outer Hebrides and look forward to working closely with them. “This announcement only heightens the need for us to upgrade the Island’s grid connection so that marine projects can flourish in this part of the world.”
The award for a lease follows consultations by Pelamis with the local community, council and stakeholders and completion of initial site selection and feasibility studies.
Ros Hart, Project Development Manager for Pelamis, said: “The Western Isles will be home to many of the world’s first wave farms and this lease is yet another step towards commercialising wave energy in Scotland. If the trajectory of our business and its technology continues, this will be the Western Isles’ first ever grid-connected wave farm.
“We have been working on this project a number of years and look forward to completing the Bernera Wave Farm in continued close collaboration with the local communities and stakeholders involved.”
Pelamis Wave Power is a partner in the Hebridean Marine Energy Futures Project, a collaboration of industry and academia led by Lews Castle College, which was successful in securing a £900,000 grant from the Scottish Funding Council in March 2011.
Arne Vögler, Senior Research Engineer at Lews Castle College, University of the Highlands and Islands, commented: “There is a huge potential for marine energy off the Lewis coast and we are in a good position to become a hub of marine research here. Projects such as the Pelamis wave farm enable us to tap into that potential, which should lead to creating skilled jobs and attracting new students and researchers interested in joining the booming offshore renewables industry.”
Through the Hebridean Marine Energy Futures Project three wave measurement buoys were deployed last month in the Bernera area and to the North West of Lewis. These will enable accurate assessment of the wave resource and inform the layout and position of the Pelamis wave farm.
In 2005 Pelamis Wave Power manufactured the steel tube sections for three Pelamis machines at the Arnish Fabrication Yard, a contract worth £1.5m. The company sees the facilities at Arnish as a key feature to the region.
Ros Hart added: “The Western Isles are not only one of the best locations in the world for wave resource, they also boast a fantastic manufacturing facility and a proud seafaring history.
“The Bernera Wave Farm is the first of what we hope will be many megawatts of Pelamis power to come from the seas around the Outer Hebrides.”