Contractors Unlimited

World's Largest Wave Power Project Wins Approval

npower renewables
RWE Group npower renewables' plan for a pioneering wave power scheme on the Scottish Island of Lewis has been given the green light – making it the largest consented project of its kind.

Today, (22 January 2009) the Scottish Government granted consent for the Siadar Wave Energy Project (SWEP), a decision welcomed by both npower renewables and Inverness-based wave technology company Wavegen, who have been working together on the project since 2006. The scheme will harness power from the Atlantic waves in Siadar Bay to generate up to four megawatts of electricity. The energy produced each year could supply the average annual electricity needs of around 1,500 homes in the Western Isles.

The SWEP would be one of the first projects to operate under the Scottish Government's proposed multiple Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROC) scheme, the revenue support system to promote the development of marine energy generation.

npower renewables' managing director Paul Cowling said: "Scotland has immense potential in marine energy and the opportunity to be a world leader in marine renewables. This consent is an important milestone in the development of wave power technology and is to be celebrated. However, commercial demonstration projects such as Siadar still face significant economic challenges."

Matthew Seed, chief executive officer of Wavegen said: "Wavegen is delighted that the Scottish Government has consented the Siadar Wave Energy Project, validating the pioneering work Wavegen and npower renewables have put into the project development. The SWEP will be a major step in the development of the wave energy industry in Scotland and worldwide. Wavegen's proven technology will now be employed at full commercial scale, paving the way for real cost efficiencies which will bring the cost of wave energy closer to that of more established technologies."

The decision on this application has made within the Scottish Government's target of nine months.

The Scottish Government granted consent in September 2007 for a 3 MW array comprising 4 Pelamis machines at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. The Pelamis machines float on the surface of the waves, as distinct to the 40 turbines (4 MW) at the proposed Siadar wave energy station, which will be encased within a concrete breakwater structure.

The Scottish Government's Energy Consents Unit is currently processing 30 renewable project applications - 23 wind farms and seven hydro projects, with more applications expected.

The Scottish Government has determined 24 energy applications, including approval for 18 renewable and one non-renewable project since May 2007 - more determinations than over the whole of the previous four years, in which 19 projects were determined. New applications are being dealt with in line with the Scottish Government's new target to come to a decision within nine months, where there is no public inquiry.

Scottish Government targets are to meet 50% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020, and an interim target of 31% by 2011.

Total installed capacity of renewables in Scotland is over three Gigawatts. Adding in all the potential energy from already consented renewable projects to those already operating brings the total to 5.5 Gigawatts, meaning the Scottish Government is set to surpass the 2011 target.

Between 2006 and 2007, data published in the latest Energy Trends bulletin shows that: Renewable electricity accounted for 20.1 per cent of Scottish gross consumption in 2007, up from 16.9 per cent in 2006.

Electricity generated by renewables increased by 18 per cent - electricity from hydro natural flow increased by 11 per cent, electricity from other renewable sources increased by 29 per cent.

Electricity generated from nuclear power fell by 13 per cent, mainly due to unplanned outages at nuclear stations.

Electricity from fossil fuels fell by 12 per cent, with increases in gas (8 per cent) offset by larger reductions in coal (-21 per cent) and oil (-33 per cent). The changes are linked to the price of gas relative to the price of coal. As a result, Scotland generated 48,217 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity, a reduction of almost eight per cent compared to 2006.

Over 15 per cent of all electricity generated in 2007 was exported.

SWEP:  It is estimated that the SWEP the will produce approximately 8,000MWh per year based on an assumed installed capacity of 4MW. This is enough to supply the average annual electricity needs of around 1,500 homes in the Western Isles. This is based on the UK average annual domestic electricity consumption of approximately 4700kWh per year over the life of the SWEP. This figure may change as average domestic electricity consumption changes.

The Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROCs) sees government subsidies paid to energy companies for every unit of renewable energy produced. The Renewables Obligation (Scotland) came into force in April 2002 and is one way of pursuing the Scottish Government's renewable energy objectives. The RO target for 2008/09 was 9.1 per cent, rising to 15.4 per cent in 2015/16 and 30-35 per cent by 2020.
The UK Government will introduce banding of the Renewables Obligation this year, with the most established technology, landfill gas, getting 0.25 ROC/MWh, and emerging technologies such as wave and tidal getting 2 ROCS/MWh. The Scottish Government will introduce higher bands for wave (5ROCS/MWh) and tidal (3ROCs/MWh).

Posted 22/01/09

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