Iberdrola Dives Deeper Into Wave, Tidal Power

Iberdrola is well known as a wind power player, but with key announcements on both the tidal and wave fronts this month, the Spain-based multinational provided a reminder that it has big ambitions with marine energy as well – through its Scottish Power Renewables unit and in other ways.

First on tidal power: Iberdrola said Scottish Power Renewables had agreed to install four Alstom tidal devices at the Sound of Islay project it is undertaking. These are the turbines that have been undergoing testing at the European Marine Energy Centre, reportedly with good success.

Alstom’s 1-megawatt tidal turbine (image via Alstom)

Alstom’s 1-megawatt tidal turbine (image via Alstom)

But that doesn’t mean they’ll be the only turbine type in the water at Islay. With this new technology, it makes sense not to put all the eggs in one basket, so the four Alstom devices will go alongside very similar-looking turbines from Hammerfest Strom, which counts Iberdrola as one of its backers.

“Islay will now permit the two leading tidal power technologies to be proven side by side and to take them both to the point of commercialization,” Simon Christian, UK managing director at Scottish Power Renewables, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, on wave power: Iberdrola Ingenieria said it was partnering with a Swedish company, CorPower Ocean, as well WavEc, a Portuguese marine research centre, to develop a wave energy converter, “a new type of compact device with advanced control technology.”

CorPower Wave Energy Converter

The CorPower Wave Energy Converter (image via CorPower Ocean)

“Within the framework of this ambitious project, CorPower will be responsible for designing the device, Iberdrola Ingenieria will be in charge of developing the offshore farm, and WavEc will provide analysis and validation support during the various stages,” Iberdrol said.

There are, of course, a seemingly endless number of variations on the wave energy converter theme striving to prove their worth. CorPower’s point-absorber starts with a buoy at the surface. As it bobs and sways with the waves, energy is sent to a connected device that converts that motion into mechanical energy, which can then be converted to electricity.

Iberdrola said that the HiWave project €15 million, should be completed in 2016. The project is partly funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) through one of its knowledge and innovation communities (KIC InnoEnergy).

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.