U.K. Claims Lead In Marine Energy

It’s been a long time since Britain ruled the seas, but the nation is making a strong bid these days to lead the way in marine energy. It claims that a quarter of the world’s wave and tidal technologies are being developed in the UK, and is heralding the installation this month of a “Wave Hub” off the Cornwall coast that it says will drive the sector for the next quarter century.

Wave Hub sits 180 feet under water in the seabed 10 miles off the coast, according to the South West Regional Development Agency (RDA), which is in charge of the project. Connected to the shore by a subsea cable, the hub is basically a giant socket, and researchers say they’ll be able to connect a range of water power devices to it for evaluation.

image via South West RDA

“Wave Hub will be on the seabed for the next 25 years, helping the world gain invaluable knowledge about how we tap the vast energy potential of our oceans in the pursuit of clean, abundant, renewable energy,” RDA General Manager Guy Lavender said.

While renewable energy is the goal with wave energy, in announcing Wave Hub’s installation British officials—whose economy is in the same tenuous state as that of the United States—focused on it as an engine for economic growth. “This is a huge opportunity for UK business,” said UK Science Minister David Willits, predicting the sector could produce as many as 16,000 jobs by 2040.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.