Floating Wind to Save the Day at Cornwall’s Wave Hub?

Image source: Wave Hub

Wave Hub is looking to facilitate floating wind technology testing at its site off Cornwall due to slow progress of the wave energy sector and delays from technology developers that signed up for testing their devices at the site. 

“The wave sector is unfortunately taking longer to develop than all parties originally anticipated. In response, we are diversifying our approach through actively exploring all marine renewable technologies, including the option of utilizing the Wave Hub infrastructure for the deployment of floating wind,” Wave Hub said in a statement to Tidal Energy Today.

The site has been operational for several years but did not deliver any electricity to the UK National Grid so far. Its customers include Australian Carnegie Wave Energy, American GWave and UK’s Seatricity. Of the three, only Seatricity had carried out testing off Cornwall, but dropped the trials on the second iteration of its wave energy device due to issues with funding and decommissioning deadline. Now, it turned out that Carnegie Wave Energy opted for another location and GWave decided to postpone the testing for two years. Both were in line to put their devices to testing in 2018.

Seatricity’s Oceanus 2 device at Wave Hub (Photo: Wave Hub)

The news on issues within the wave energy sector making Wave Hub look to floating wind for the Cornish site came after the call for tenders for the provision of a floating LiDAR, published in early March. Wave Hub said the procurement was part of a wider programme of work to diversify the site off Cornwall to support the demonstration of floating wind in addition to wave energy.

Floating wind is being considered not only for the Cornish site. Namely, in February, Wave Hub submitted an environmental scoping report to Natural Resources Wales and the Marine Management Organisation for the Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone (PDZ). The report considers a mix of wave energy and floating wind technology with a maximum total electricity generation of 100MW and asks for a formal opinion on what issues should be covered by an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

”By sharing the PDZ with floating wind we will be able to broaden access to finance for the project, bring forward development of the site and enable a phased installation of technology that will support commercialisation of both the wave and floating wind sectors,”  Madeline Cowley, the PDZ Project Manager, said in February.

According to reports from 2015 ond 2017, published by Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), more work needs to be done if wave energy is to become cost competitive, with wave energy technologies unlikely to make a significant contribution to the UK energy system. ETI suggested wave energy developers should ‘radically’ reconsider their approaches to extraction and conversion to find ways that will drastically reduce costs, stating that the technology is presently ten times more expensive than other low carbon alternatives.

Photo: Seatricity’s Oceanus 2 device at Wave Hub (Photo: Wave Hub)