27 July 2010 – Wave Hub, the South West RDA’s (Regional Development Agency) pioneering marine energy project, has set sail for Cornwall in preparation for installation next week on the seabed 16km offshore.
Wave Hub is creating the world’s largest test site for wave energy technology by building a grid-connected socket on the seabed off the coast of Cornwall, to which wave power devices can be connected and their performance evaluated.
The GBP42m ($65m) project has been developed by the South West RDA and is a cornerstone of its strategy to develop a world class marine energy industry in South West England. For the past week the 12-tonne hub and its 25 km, 1300 tonne subsea cable have been gradually loaded on to the cable laying ship Nordica at Hartlepool docks in North East England, where the hub and cable were manufactured.
The Nordica left Hartlepool at 17:00 on Monday July 26 and after a brief stop for bunkering, is due make her way to St Ives Bay on the Cornish coast where she is expected to arrive on Thursday afternoon.
The RDA’s Wave Hub general manager, Guy Lavender, said: “Nordica’s arrival marks the start of the Wave Hub deployment operation and they will begin work straight away. The entire cable route will be surveyed before the cable is pulled ashore at Hayle early next week and buried in the sand for two kilometres out to sea in an operation that will take around two days.
“At the same time the Nordica will head out to sea laying the cable as it goes. It should reach the Wave Hub site after about four or five days and will lower the hub on to the seabed in about 50 metres of water using its on-board crane.”
Once Wave Hub has been positioned on the seabed the Nordica will head to the port of Falmouth on the south coast of Cornwall to pick up a 45-tonne underwater tractor that will bury the subsea cable for a further five kilometres offshore. In the autumn Wave Hub will undergo a series of tests in preparation for welcoming its first wave energy devices next year.
Wave Hub is being funded with GBP12.5m from the South West RDA, GBP20m from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme and GBP9.5m from the UK government. An independent economic impact assessment has calculated that Wave Hub could create 1800 jobs and inject GBP560m in the UK economy over 25 years. Almost 1000 of these jobs and GBP332m could be generated in South West England.