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Wave energy test equipment sets sail for Cornwall

Wave Hub, the South West Regional Development Agency’s pioneering marine energy project, set sail for Cornwall last night in preparation for installation next week on the sea bed 16km offshore.

Wave Hub is creating the world’s largest test site for wave energy technology by building a grid-connected socket on the seabed off the coast of Cornwall, to which wave power devices can be connected and their performance evaluated.

The £42M project has been developed by the South West RDA and is a cornerstone of its strategy to develop a world class marine energy industry in South West England.

“It should reach the Wave Hub site after about four or five days and will lower the hub on to the seabed.”

Guy Lavender, South West RDA

For the past week the 12t hub and its 25km, 1,300t subsea cable have been gradually loaded on to the cable laying ship Nordica at Hartlepool docks in North East England, where the hub and cable were manufactured.

The Nordica left Hartlepool at 17:00 on Monday 26 July and, after a brief stop for bunkering, is due make her way to St Ives Bay on the Cornish coast where she is expected to arrive on Thursday afternoon.

RDA Wave Hub general manager Guy Lavender said: “Nordica’s arrival marks the start of the Wave Hub deployment operation and they will begin work straight away. The entire cable route will be surveyed before the cable is pulled ashore at Hayle early next week and buried in the sand for two kilometres out to sea in an operation that will take around two days.

“At the same time the Nordica will head out to sea laying the cable as it goes. It should reach the Wave Hub site after about four or five days and will lower the hub on to the seabed in about 50m of water using its on-board crane.”

Economic injection

Once Wave Hub has been positioned on the seabed the Nordica will head to the port of Falmouth on the south coast of Cornwall to pick up a 45t underwater tractor that will bury the subsea cable for a further 5km offshore.

In the autumn Wave Hub will undergo a series of tests in preparation for welcoming its first wave energy devices next year.

Wave Hub is being funded with £12.5M from the South West RDA, £20M from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme and £9.5M from the UK government.

An independent economic impact assessment has calculated that Wave Hub could create 1,800 jobs and inject £560M in the UK economy over 25 years. Almost 1,000 of these jobs and £332M could be generated in South West England.

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