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Marine energy firms join up to develop world's largest wave farm

Scottish and French marine developers sign joint venture to create 200MW wave energy site in Orkney

The AWS-III technology converts wave power to pneumatic power
The AWS-III consists of a multi-cell array of flexible membrane absorbers, which convert wave power to pneumatic power

French firm Alstom and Scotland’s SSE Renewables are working together to develop the world’s largest wave farm. The companies have signed a joint venture agreement to develop the Costa Head Wave Project, a 200MW wave energy site located north of mainland Orkney, Scotland.

Together, the companies will work to populate the site with AWS-III wave energy converters, a technology currently under development by AWS Ocean Energy Ltd. Alstom acquired a 40 per cent share in the Inverness marine technology firm in June last year.

The AWS-III technology consists of a multi-cell array of flexible membrane absorbers, which convert wave power to pneumatic power through compression of air within cells that are inter-connected. Turbine-generator sets are provided to convert the pneumatic power to electricity.

Jérôme Pécresse, senior vice president of Alstom Hydro, said: “We are delighted to announce our agreement with SSE Renewables, one of the leading developers of marine energy in the world, to develop Costa Head, which is the largest wave energy site being developed today in the world. When completed, it will make a valuable contribution to the UK's renewable energy targets.

“This project places Alstom at the forefront of the fast-developing ocean energy sector along with our offshore wind and tidal energy businesses,” he added.

A typical AWS-III device will comprise an array of 12 cells, each measuring around 16m wide by 8m deep, arranged around a structure with overall beam of up to 60m.

The device has a capacity of 2.5MW, while having a structural steel weight of less than 1300 tonnes. The AWS-III will be slack moored in water depths of 65m to 150m using standard mooring spreads.

Devices will be arranged in arrays or ‘farms’ of up to several hundred MW total rating. Each AWS-III will be connected to a central offshore substation via a high-voltage umbilical link.

A scale model of the AWS-III was tested in Loch Ness in 2010. Full scale component testing will commence in 2012. A full-scale prototype is planned for deployment at the European Marine Energy Centre in 2014.

Simon Grey, chief executive of AWS Ocean Energy Ltd, said: “The selection of the AWS-III system for this exciting and ground-breaking project is a significant endorsement of our technology and team. We firmly believe that the AWS-III will become the established choice for utility scale offshore wave power generation.”