Scotland’s Pelamis wave power machines pass 10,000 hours of grid-connected electricity generation milestone


Pelamis machines being installed at Billia Croo wave test site EMEC. (Colin Keldie photograph courtesy of EMEC 050614)
Pelamis machines being installed at Billia Croo wave test site EMEC. (Colin Keldie photograph courtesy of EMEC 050614)

The two Pelamis P2 machines currently deployed at the wave test site of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney have this week collectively reached a milestone 10,000 hours of grid connected operations.

The machines, which are undergoing a progressive test programme at the Billia Croo wave test site, hit the 10,000th hour on June 3 – coinciding with an Ocean Energy Day held by EMEC in partnership with Ocean Energy Europe as part of the EU Sustainable Energy week.

Pelamis Wave Power was established in 1998 and is widely recognised as the world’s most advanced wave energy developer. Pelamis machines absorb the energy of ocean waves and convert it into clean, green electricity.

Senior delegates from the European Commission attended a seminar and public exhibition about marine power technology and visited the array of Pelamis machines offshore, while members of the public were invited to visit marine power facilities usually closed to the public, including the Billia Croo substation at the wave test site.

The estimated European annual average wave resource is 167GW, of which Scotland’s share has been calculated at around 18%. So while Scotland’s strong wave resource, marine expertise, infrastructure and market support present an ideal proving ground for wave power, there is clear potential for commercial scale deployment across European shores and further afield.

Richard Yemm, Pelamis Chief Executive, used the opportunity to highlight the achievements of the Pelamis P2 demonstration programme, EMEC and its importance in the ongoing development of Pelamis technology.

He said: “Every milestone is important in our programme but hitting 10,000 hours on P2 is a big one. We have not only proven that Pelamis technology works, we have also now shown that it works reliably.

“This progress has been hard won and gives us a unique and solid platform of data and experience to push ahead with optimising the Pelamis system in parallel with ongoing trials.

“The focus of on-going testing at EMEC through his year has now switched to real at sea demonstration of major enhancements to system performance through advances in control software that have as yet only been shown in the laboratory.

“This, in conjunction with intensive cost engineering work with our supply chain, gives us the potential to reduce our cost of energy quickly and efficiently, at least-cost to the consumer.” 

The two Pelamis machines, one of which is owned by ScottishPower Renewables, are deployed at the Billia Croo site for testing periods in a range of different wave conditions.

The P2 machines have experienced over 90% of sea state occurrences for an average year at the Orkney site, including significant wave heights of 5mHs, and individual waves of almost 10m.

While installed offshore the machines have been absorbing bursts of power in excess of 2MW and converting this into smooth sustained generation into the national grid, including 30 minute average electrical output of over 280kW.

The ongoing testing programme allows the Pelamis team to build on these positive results in order to further optimise the technology and its control systems for commercial deployment.

Neil Kermode, Managing Director, EMEC, said: “The test site has been the setting for many technical milestones and world firsts for Pelamis technology and so it’s fitting that the 10,000th hour of P2 operations coincided with our Ocean Energy Day. “

European Commission representatives in attendance were Andreea Strachinescu (Head of New Energy Technologies, Innovation & Clean Coal, DG Energy), Paul Verhoef (Head of Renewable Energy Sources, DG Research and Innovation) and Mattijs Soede (Policy Officer).

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