25 September 2008 – The world’s first commercial wave powered project was inaugurated this week in Portugal featuring three Pelamis wave energy converters. The project is the first of three planned phases, which will eventually see 25 devices in place deployed with a generating capacity of 21 MW.
The generators, developed by a Scottish engineering company Pelamis Wave Power Limited, are housed inside articulated structures with hinged joints. Movement at the joints caused by rising and falling waves drives hydraulic rams to pump fluid through the generators.
When completed, the project will generate enough electricity to power 15 000 Portuguese homes, contributing to Portugal’s target of generating 31 per cent of its energy from renewables. It has been supported by legislature in Portugal which pays a feed-in-tariff of about 18 pence per kilowatt hour generated.
The first phase of the project, located three miles off the coast of Agucadoura in north Portugal, is using three units generate 2.25 MW of power at a cost of €9m ($13.2m). The project is a joint venture between Pelamis Wave Power Limited, Babcock and Brown Ltd — a global specialist asset manager, Energias de Portugal (EDP) and Portuguese energy group EFACEC.
The output from the units is reliant on the weather. Depending on the wave resource, Pelamis predict that the machines will on average produce 25-40 per cent of their full power output over the course of a year.