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BREAKING WAVES: Green energy from the world's largest wave power station will supply up to 5% of Shetland's electricity needs from 2001, it was announced this week.

A power purchase agreement has been awarded to Sea Power International of Stockholm by the Scottish Office for a 1.5MW wave power station to feed electricity into Shetland's existing grid. SPI claims the installation will be the largest wave energy power system in the world when it opens in two years. The Swedish-developed 'offshore beach' generator is based on a smaller prototype which has been under test for the last six years. It will consist of a 100m x 80m barge moored offshore with a tapering ramp extending into the waves to act as a beach. Waves breaking over the beach will fill a reservoir in the centre of the barge to about 4.5m above sea level. Water in the reservoir will then discharge through conventional low head turbines, similar to those used in tidal power stations. Bath-based Shawater will provide specialist hydroelectric and offshore engineering support on the project.

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