UK Wave Power FabTest Site Up And Running

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.

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image via Insight Marine

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.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.