European utilities are deepening their involvement in the development of renewable marine energy resources, a sign that wave, tidal and other renewable ocean energy technology may be poised to come of age. Vattenfall, Europe’s sixth-largest power utility, Spanish multinational renewable energy developer Abengoa, and UK-based international engineering firm Babcock have joined to form Nautimus, a Scottish company that will provide engineering, procurement, integration and construction (EPC) services for utilities’ wave power and tidal stream projects.
Nautimus’ genesis is the result of the three partners perceiving a need to bring together under one organization’s umbrella all the technology, engineering and power market experience required to take renewable wave power and tidal stream technology and projects from prototype and pilot stages through to full-scale commercialization.
“The partnership has been established to address the absence of EPC services players in the ocean energy sector capable of handling the wide ranging challenges associated with constructing projects with new technology offshore. This gap, if unfilled, would pose a significant problem for the sector if, as expected, ocean energy schemes are deployed in increasing numbers before 2020,” the partners explained in a press release.
Bringing Renewable Wave Energy, Tidal Power to the Grid
Nautimus’s first project is likely to be Vattenfall’s 10-MW Aegir wave power farm. Vattenfall is working with Pelamis Wave Power (PWP) on the project. Construction could be begin in 2016 off Scotland’s Shetland Island if required government consents are received. Announced in March, Aegir is Vattenfall’s second wave power venture in the waters off Scotland’s Orkney Islands.
To develop Aegir, Vattenfall and Pelamis formed the Aegir Wave Power joint venture, the goal of which is to build a wave energy farm based on 11 Pelamis wave energy converters with a total rated capacity of 10 MW, sufficient to power some 8,500 households, according to Vattenfall.
Aegir Wave Farm has secured a test site with the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Center (EMEC). Aegir’s goal is to have a pilot test version of Pelamis’s wave converter up and running in 2014.
Scotland’s government has determinedly, and successfully, pursued the goal of establishing the UK autonomous region as the world’s premier center for the development of ocean energy technology. Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing applauded the creation of Nautimus.
“I welcome the news of the establishment of Nautimus, the first engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services company dedicated to supporting the development and deployment of wave and tidal energy projects. This is further evidence of the momentum building behind the marine renewables industry as it makes strides towards commercialization and the economic potential that this sector offers to supply chain companies.”
Abengoa’s general manager of Seapower Javier Camacho believes Nautimus can play a key role in replicating the success the company’s had in the concentrating solar power field in ocean wave and tidal stream energy technology.
“In our concentrating solar power business we went from prototypes to large commercial projects adding more than 1.5 gigawatts in less than a decade. We see that wave energy could be poised for the same transformation, which is why we have established the seapower division and we are working through Nautimus. There is no time to lose if ocean energy is to become a commercial reality.”