Published: 17/11/2011 01:00 - Updated: 16/11/2011 15:16

Inverness firm hands over the world's first full life wave power plant

Wave farm at Mutriku
Wave farm at Mutriku

Voith Hydro Wavegen, the Inverness-based marine energy company, has cause to celebrate after successfully handing over the world’s first full life wave power plant into commercial operation.

An emerging industry, marine energy has a number of prototypes and small scale devices being tested in various locations across the world. But now the industry is moving to the next level with the completion of the first grid-connected marine power plant in Spain.

Wavegen was the first company in the world to develop a commercial-scale, grid-connected wave energy plant in 2000 when they installed the LIMPET on Islay. This plant has now been successfully operating for eleven years as a demonstrator project.

Now they’ve achieved another first by selling the first commercial wave power plant to Ente Vasco de la Energía, the Basque Energy Board in the North of Spain.

Matthew Seed, CEO of Voith Hydro Wavegen, welcomed the announcement, saying: "This is very exciting news, not just for our company, but for the whole marine energy sector. This major milestone is a demonstration of just how far the industry has developed in recent years."

"We are delighted to have developed the first wave power plant to be sold on a commercial basis and we’re also delighted to have provided the technology for the first grid-connected wave power plant in Spain – a country with enormous potential for wave energy."

The 300kW wave power plant, consisting of 16 turbines, is housed within a breakwater at the port of Mutriku. It has been designed for a 25 year operational life and will provide electricity for 250 homes.

During commissioning and acceptance testing the plant has produced 100MWh and has now been formally handed over to the client. It has been supplied with standard commercial guarantees for performance and availability.

The power plant used technology developed and supplied by Voith Hydro Wavegen in a contract worth 1.2 million euros (£1 million).

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "Scotland is leading the development of wave and tidal energy, using our skills and expertise to help Scotland - and the world - develop marine power. This welcome announcement by Inverness-based Wavegen highlights the progress being made towards full commercialisation of wave and tidal technologies."

The company is also behind the UK’s only fully consented wave energy project at Siadar on the West coast of Lewis. As Matthew Seed explained: "We believe our success in Spain clearly demonstrates our ability to deliver projects. We have unrivalled expertise and experience, and we will continue to harness those skills to move forward on our other projects."

The company is in discussion with a number of companies to develop projects in other parts of the world.

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