Vattenfall wave farm may become much bigger, company reveals

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The proposed Shetland wave farm could expand from 10 megaWatts to over 100MW after eight years of operation if energy company Vattenfall’s plans come to fruition.

The latest details of the Aegir Wave Power project were highlighted at this week’s RenewableUK conference and exhibition in Manchester by Vattenfall’s ocean energy programme manager for the UK and Ireland, Harvey Appelbe.

The wave farm is still in the first of three phases. Phase Two from 2015 could see an array of up to 14 Pelamis machines generating 10 megaWatts at a cost of around £60 million. That would be followed by expansion in Phase Three up to 40MW until 2023 when “commercialisation” would take place, ramping up production to 100MW or more.

Mr Appelbe revealed that the Pelamis P2 machine might be upgraded from four-metre diameter capsules to five-metre, potentially increasing its capacity from the current rating of 750 kiloWatts.

The Aegir project is entirely dependent on the Viking Energy windfarm going ahead and bringing about a 600MW interconnector to the Scottish mainland. With the Viking windfarm now only rated up to an absolute maximum of 457MW there would be around 150MW of spare capacity for ventures like Aegir and other proposed small wind, wave and tidal farms.

Mr Appelbe explained to delegates why Vattenfall and partner Pelamis favoured Shetland. Among the reasons, apart from its remorseless wave energy, was the “forward-looking” community and its experience in coping with large industrial developments.

Meanwhile, Pelamis co-founder Richard Yemm has said wavepower from Pelamis could turn out to be “the cheapest source of power from any sector ever” if its projects around Scotland with big power companies are successful. In addition to the Shetland joint-venture with Vattenfall it is involved in providing machines for possible 50MW wavefarms off Orkney for both Scottish Power Renewables and E.ON.

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