The team behind a pioneering wave energy test site set up off the southwest coast of England has introduced the first wave power device into the water there.
The Bolt Lifesaver wave energy converter, which is ultimately capable of producing clean and efficient electricity, is now being tested in the sheltered waters off Falmouth Bay, within easy access of the shore.
The device built by inventor Fred Olsen will be left in the water at the testing center known as FabTest, part of the South West Marine Energy Park. FabTest was put in place in 2011 in Falmouth, on the south coast of Cornwall following a lease agreement between the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners FHC and the Crown Estate, which owns most of the coastal waters surrounding the U.K.
The installation of the new device, manufactured in local shipyards by A&P Falmouth, is part of a growing trend that is turning Southwest England into a center for wave energy technology. In January the region was named as the U.K’.s first Marine Energy Park, creating a collaborative partnership between commercial and academic organizations.
There is good reason for this. A study commissioned by the South West RDA (Regional Development Agency) and published in 2010 calculated there are sufficient marine energy resources for commercial use within 50 km of the South West coast to deliver 9.2 gigawatts (GW) of electricity, roughly enough power to supply the annual needs of 20 percent of U.K. households.