World's First Wave Power Plant Set for Portuguese Coast

LISBON, Portugal, May 24, 2005 (ENS) - The world’s first commercial wave-farm - to generate renewable electricity from ocean waves - is in the works. Ocean Power Delivery, a company based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thursday signed a contract with a Portuguese consortium to build the first phase of the project.

The initial phase will consist of three Pelamis P-750 Wave Energy Converters located five kilometers (three miles) off Portugal’s northern coast, near Póvoa de Varzim.

converters

Pelamis Wave Energy Converters take the movement of the ocean and convert it into electricity. (Photo courtesy Aquatera)
The €8 million project will have an installed capacity of 2.25MW, and is expected to meet the average electricity demand of more than 1,500 Portuguese households while displacing more than 6,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions from conventional generating plant.

The project is being supplied by Ocean Power Delivery - Portugal S.A., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ocean Power Delivery with the right to manufacture Pelamis machines in Portugal. Construction of the project will begin immediately.

Richard Yemm, Managing Director of Ocean Power Delivery, said, “This is a significant milestone for our company and for wave energy. We see this order as just the first step in developing the Portuguese market, which has the potential to be worth up to a billion euros over the next 10 years.”

The first phase is a good start, but the second phase is also underway. A letter of intent has been issued to order 30 more Pelamis machines before the end of 2006, subject to satisfactory performance of the initial phase.

The company heading the Portuguese consortium is Enersis, part of the Semapa Corporation. A renewable energy company with 100 megawatts (MW) of mini hydro, Enersis also has 500 MW of wind farms under operation or construction and a further 500 MW of wind energy under development.

converter

Pelamis wave converter (Photo courtesy Aquatera)
Enersis Chairmain Gonçalo Serras Pereira commented, “After 17 years of experience developing, constructing and operating mini hydro schemes, and nine years with wind farms, we believe wave energy will be the new Portuguese endogenous renewable resource."

"This move, in conjunction with other potential partners, may win significant industrial economic benefits for Portuguese companies as the market is developed and wave energy gains competitive advantage with other renewables,” he said.

Ocean Power Delivery has been developing the Pelamis technology for the past seven years. The prototype for the Portuguese machines was launched in February 2004 and is currently under test at European Marine Energy Centre, Orkney, Scotland.

The Pelamis system was selected as the best and only system currently recommended for deployment in an American project by the internationally known Electrical Power Research Institute. This project benefits from a special tariff established by the Portuguese government to support wave energy.