Alstom and SSE Renewables have embarked on a joint venture to develop the world’s largest wave farm off the coast of Orkney, Scotland. The Costa Head Wave Project will eventually be an up to 200 MW facility located in water of 60 – 75 m. deep some 5 km north of Orkney.
Initially, Alstom and SSE Renewables plan to carry out detailed site surveys and environmental impact assessments in order to develop an 10 MW facility before moving on to bring the site up to its maximum specifications.
The facility will be made up of the AWS-III devices which comprise an array of 12 cells, each measuring around 16 m wide by 8 m deep, arranged around a structure with an overall beam of up to 60 m. Such a device has a capacity of 2.5 MW whilst having a structural steel weight of less than 1300 tonnes. These devices will be arranged in ‘farms’ with a total capacity of several hundred MW and will each be connected via an umbilical link to a central offshore substation.
There are high hopes for the Orkney facility: Jérôme Pécresse, President of Alstom Renewable Power said that “When completed, it will make a valuable contribution to the UK's renewable energy targets."
Wave energy is a widely distributed renewable energy resource with a potential market that some estimate could be as high as 200 – 300 GW worldwide. The close location of wave energy to mainly densely populated areas of Europe and North America make it a highly attractive proposition.
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