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Hydroelectric wavehub-plug

Published on September 9th, 2010 | by Chris Milton

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World’s Largest Wave Power Hub Goes Live

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September 9th, 2010 by
 
Over in the UK we like to do things … well, a little differently. That stiff upper lip nonsense was always a bit of a ruse, hiding a reckless ability to do those things sane human beings would never think of doing.

Like slinging a live four way power socket into a bath tub. Zap, you’re dead .. as the saying goes.

Yet this is precisely what’s been going on off the south west coast of Britain but with two crucial differences: the four huge plugs (like the one pictured) are designed as energy receivers, not emitters; and the Atlantic Ocean is a wee bit bigger than your average bathtub.

Ten miles off the Cornish town of Hayle, 180 feet below the sea, lies a 12 tonne four way plug which cost $64 million to build and install. Called the Wave Hub, it can have four 5MW marine power devices connected to it at any one time and is connected to the main national grid by a 15 mile length of cable.

Now, 5MW is peanuts compared to some of the projections for marine power installations; for example just up the coast it’s been estimated that the world’s largest tidal power generator could generate 187,000 MWh/year.

However permanent installation is not the aim of the Wave Hub. Rather, it’s all about providing a live scenario test bed for marine energy developers to come and test and tweak their inventions. If it just so happens it provides energy for 20,000 homes, then so much the better!

The first testers scheduled at the Wave Hub are New Jersey based Ocean Power Technologies, whose buoy based design is already live off the north coast of Spain. Their stint at the Wave Hub is to test out a new design which would see the buoys’ output increase by over three times.

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About the Author

is a seasoned sustainability journalist focusing on business, finance and clean technology. His writing's been carried by a number of highly respected publishers, including The Guardian, The Washington Post and Scientific American. You can follow him on twitter as @britesprite, where he's one of Mashable's top green tweeters and Fast Company's CSR thought leaders. Alternatively you can follow him to the shops... but that would be boring.



  • http://www.britesprite.co.uk Chris Milton

    Thanks for the comments guys! It’s great to see such positivity behind marine power. Truly, this is a renewable whose only condition is that the moon continues to circle this planet .. if that ever ceased to be the case, I think electricity would be the least of our problems.

    Chris.

    • North

      Not a bad magazine you are starting here. I suggest you call the department “ocean energy” rather than “wave energy” as you are covering both tidal and wave energy conversion concepts, two very different things. Wave energy originates from the Sun (like everything else), whereas tidal energy is the only known way to capture the energy of the orbital motion of the Moon.

  • Pete

    I agree with Purshottam Panchal, the world’s oceans are a vast resource that we should be looking to use (responsibly) more and more. The fact that the tides are 100% predictable – in some cases we can predict, very accurately, tide patterns 200 years into the future, means that our energy supply is not at mother nature’s mercy.
    We have the technology, we have the oceans, all we need now is the determination and the legislation from our nations’ leaders.
    If we can develop tidal power alongside battery technology for, lets say, electric cars…then we really could be onto a winner.

  • http://www.godrej.com Purshottam Panchal

    Ocean power technology is getting popularity. It can be more effective then solar PV system. 24 X 7 out put is what we get out of it. Specially in monsoon where solar is not efficient this will give maximum out put. Ocean is really a ocean unlimited and un-tapped power, we have to take out what we want from it.

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