Agucadoura Wave Farm

The Aguçadoura Wave Power Plant is the world's first commercial wave farm. It is located 5 km (3 mi) offshore near Póvoa de Varzim north of Oporto in Portugal. The farm uses three Pelamis wave energy converters to convert the motion of the ocean surface waves into electricity, totalling to 2.25MW in total installed capacity. The farm was officially opened on the 23rd of September 2008, by the Portuguese Minister of Economy.

Developed by the Scottish company Pelamis Wave Power, the Pelamis machine is made up of connected sections which flex and bend relative to one another as waves run along the structure. This motion is resisted by hydraulic rams which pump high pressure oil through hydraulic motors which in turn drive electrical generators. The three machines which make up the Aguçadoura Wave Park are each rated at 750KW, giving an installed capacity of 2.25MW, enough to meet the average electricity demand of more than 1,500 Portuguese homes.

The project was originally conceived by the Portuguese renewable energy company Enersis, which developed and financed the project and which was subsequently bought by the Australian infrastructure company Babcock & Brown in December 2005. In the last quarter of 2008 Babcock & Brown had its shares suspended and has been in a managed process of selling its assets, including the Agucadoura project. In March 2009 Babcock & Brown went into voluntary administration.

In November 2008 the Pelamis machines were brought back to harbor at Leixões due to a technical problem with some of the bearings for which a solution has been found. However the machines are likely to remain offline until a new partner is found to take over Babcock & Brown’s 77% share in the project.

Wave farms

The world's first commercial wave farm opened in 2008 at the Aguçadora Wave Park near Póvoa de Varzim in Portugal. It uses three Pelamis P-750 machines with a total installed capacity of 2.25MW. However, in November the units were removed from the water, and in March 2009 the project was suspended indefinitely. A second phase of the project planned to increase the installed capacity to 21MW using a further 25 Pelamis machines is in doubt following Babcock's withdrawal from the project.

Funding for a 3MW wave farm in Scotland was announced on 20 February 2007 by the Scottish Executive, at a cost of over 4 million pounds, as part of a £13 million funding package for marine power in Scotland. The farm will be the world's largest, with a capacity of 3MW generated by four Pelamis machines.

Funding has also been announced for the development of a Wave hub off the north coast of Cornwall, England. The Wave hub will act as giant extension cable, allowing arrays of wave energy generating devices to be connected to the electricity grid. The Wave hub will initially allow 20MW of capacity to be connected, with potential expansion to 40MW. Four device manufacturers have so far expressed interest in connecting to the Wave hub.

The scientists have calculated that wave energy gathered at Wave Hub will be enough to power up to 7,500 households. Savings that the Cornwall wave power generator will bring are significant: about 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide in the next 25 years.

A CETO wave farm off the coast of Western Australia has been operating to prove commercial viability and, after preliminary environmental approval, is poised for further development.

Wave Energy, Wave Power

Wave power is the transport of energy by ocean surface waves, and the capture of that energy to do useful work — for example for electricity generation, water desalination, or the pumping of water (into reservoirs).

Wave power plant is distinct from the diurnal flux of tidal power and the steady gyre of ocean currents. Wave power generation is not currently a widely employed commercial technology although there have been attempts at using it since at least 1890. The world's first commercial wave farm is based in Portugal, at the Aguçadoura Wave Park, which consists of three 750 kilowatt Pelamis devices.

The first known patent to utilise energy from ocean waves dates back to 1799 and was filed in Paris by Girard and his son. An early application of wave power plant was a device constructed around 1910 by Bochaux-Praceique to light and power his house at Royan, near Bordeaux in France. It appears that this was the first Oscillating Water Column type of wave energy device. From 1855 to 1973 there were already 340 patents filed in the UK alone.

Modern scientific pursuit of wave energy was however pioneered by Yoshio Masuda's experiments in the 1940s. He has tested various concepts of wave energy devices at sea, with several hundred units used to power navigation lights. Among these was the concept of extracting power from the angular motion at the joints of an articulated raft, which was proposed in the 1950s by Masuda.

A renewed interest in wave energy was motivated by the oil crisis in 1973. A number of university researchers reexamined the potential of generating energy from ocean waves, among whom notably were Stephen Salter from the University of Edinburgh, Kjell Budal and Johannes Falnes from Norwegian Institute of Technology (now merged into Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Michael E. McCormick from U. S. Naval Academy, David Evans from Bristol University, Michael French from University of Lancaster, John Newman and Chiang C. Mei from MIT.

In the 1980s, as the oil price went down, wave-energy funding was drastically reduced. Nevertheless, a few first-generation prototypes were tested at sea. More recently, following the issue of climate change, there is again a growing interest worldwide for renewable energy, including wave energy power plant.