The United Kingdom this week launched a €24 million contest to support up to two pilot wave energy projects, with the government aiming to scale up clean technology to power more homes and businesses and curb carbon emissions.
Marine power has the potential to provide up to 20 per cent of the UK’s current electricity demand, as well as help the country reach its climate targets and support thousands of jobs, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said in a statement on Thursday.
“This scheme will help move marine power to the next stage of development, the demonstration of a number of wave and tidal devices in array formation out at sea,” Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said.
“Marine power has huge potential and the UK is already leading the way for the rest of the world to follow,” the statement added.
Companies and organisations across the UK will be able to bid for a share of the €24 million prize that was first announced last summer. The government will announce winning bids towards the end of the year.
Lobby group RenewableUK has estimated that at least €145 million would be needed for the UK wave energy industry to reach full-scale deployment.
The technology, like other renewables such as solar and biomass, needs government funding to reach commercial scale and then subsidies after that as it grows to be more cost efficient.
Wave and tidal energy could provide up to 15 per cent of Europe’s energy needs by 2050, according to the European Ocean Energy Association.
In Malta a company, DexaWave Energy Malta, in August successfully set up a 1:10 scale model of its wave energy converters off Żonqor Point in Marsascala, by means of which the company will further test the possibilities for electricity generation from wave power in the Mediterranean.
Should the results show that it would be feasible to set up a wave farm off Gozo’s northwestern coast (where high-tech wave data collecting instruments have been installed), it would be the first such farm in the Mediterranean. It would generate about five megawatts of electricity that would be enough to supply about 1,600 households.
At the time, DexaWave Energy Denmark director Lars Elbaek explained that the project would be viable if the tests show that there are two to three-metre waves for at least 2,000 hours a year.
The model of the wave energy converters is a scaled down version of the 60-metre converters (20 to 24 of them) that the company plans to deploy off Gozo.
This is the final part of a plan of comprehensive tests by DexaWave Energy Malta, and the purpose of the seven-metre long model is to help the company establish the parameters of a full-scale converter.
Once the tests are completed, DexaWave Energy Malta and Euromed Eco Power Co. Ltd (the company which is working very closely with DexaWave Energy Malta on logistics) plan to start building the first full-scale converter early next year.
The idea for the project came about in 2009, when Euromed Eco Power director Noel Gauci and DexaWave Denmark director Lars Elbaek met in Denmark, where they had spoken about the possibilities of carrying out tests and considering a project in Malta with a view to supplying other Mediterranean countries with DexaWave Energy converters.
The idea was supported by the Finance Ministry, the Resources Ministry, Enemalta and Malta Enterprise, and DexaWave Energy Malta teamed up with the University of Malta’s Institute of Sustainable Energy and the International Ocean Institute-Malta Operational Centre, and applied for funding from the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST).
MCST granted €195,000 for tests in Gozo and Marsascala. The company itself has already contributed €90,000 to the project and plans to invest a total of €3 million by the first half of this year to build and test the first full-size model.