A wave of popularity: wave energy comes to Cornwall

Australian firm Carnegie Wave Energy have launched an offshore wave hub for wave power generators to connect to and feed electricity into the National Grid.

The project, situated off the north-coast of Cornwall towards the lower tip of the region, will allow several wave power generators to connect at the same time, providing the UK with an initial output of 20 MW.

wave power, renewable energy, sea, tide

Wave power is not the same as tidal power, however. Tidal power relies on ocean tides to generate electricity. Wave power converts the energy transfer that takes place when wind passes over the surface of the sea, creating waves. Carnegie claims that ocean swell is a more reliable source of renewable energy than wind or solar power due to the predictable nature of tide, wind and weather patterns which dictate ocean swell.

As such, tidal power generators are found on-shore; conversely, wave energy generators are at sea. Tidal generators purely use the kinetic energy of ocean currents to generate electricity, but wave energy generators are capable of either producing electricity or desalinating sea water.

The Wave Hub will eventually be capable of generating up to 40 MW when a full array of generators is connected to it.

Although the project began in 2010 with the installation of the hub on the sea bed, testing began over the summer and the unit is expected to come online and begin feeding electricity into the National Grid by June 2017.

This is a fantastic visualisation which shows the scale of the Wave Hub project, courtesy of their website.

Carnegie is one of the leading wave power specialists in the world, and the Wave Hub project in the UK is just one of three projects which the energy giant is currently focusing on.

Carnegie’s most ambitious project is in the island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Island nations are typically more reliant on imported energy, but Carnegie sees an opportunity for islands to make use of the vast bodies of water around them by using wave energy generators. On Mauritius, Carnegie wants wave power to be used to desalinate water as well as to generate electricity.

In August, the Scottish company Nova Innovation made a breakthrough by connecting tidal generators together for the first time and began supplying electricity to the Shetland Islands. Alongside this, the EU has proposed to increase funding for tidal and wave energy. The tide of popular opinion is turning in favour of aquatic renewables.

If you would like to discover more about the project, visit the Wave Hub website.