Carbon Trust invests in efforts to bring down cost of deploying Pelamis and SeaGen
14th September 2009
The Carbon Trust has announced it is to work with marine energy
specialists Pelamis Wave Power
and Marine Current Turbines (MCT) to develop new cutting-edge
technology that will accelerate and drive down the cost of deploying
their respective pioneering marine energy devices more widely.
Carbon Trust is investing £250,000 in technology that will reliably
move a giant Pelamis electricity-generating ‘sea snake’ out to sea, and
a further £150,000 towards a feasibility study into foundations
technology to deploy MCT's 'SeaGen' tidal energy system.
Carbon Trust is making the funds available through a new Marine Energy
Accelerator programme, set up to help UK businesses search for new ways
to install offshore wave and tidal power technology cost effectively.
to the Carbon Trust, energy from wave and tidal power could provide up
to 20 per cent of the UK's current electricity and has the potential to
cut carbon dioxide by tens of millions of tonnes. Recent analysis by
the Carbon Trust found that 25 per cent of the world's wave
technologies are already being developed in the UK. The analysis also
showed that Britain could be the 'natural owner' of the global wave
power market, generating revenues worth £2 billion per year by 2050 and
up to 16,000 direct jobs.
The key to unlocking this power,
however, is reducing the cost of infrastructure that allows deployment
of wave and tidal energy technology, according to Mark Williamson,
director of Innovations at the Carbon Trust. "Innovation in the
deployment and maintenance of wave and tidal devices will be critical
in cutting the cost of marine energy and unlocking the potential of
this fantastic renewable energy resource," he said. "Our analysis shows
that the UK is already leading the world in wave energy. If we can
bring down the costs of deploying this technology, we will be able to
generate marine energy on a scale that will help meet our 2020
renewable target and deliver significant economic value as well."
moving a 180-metre Pelamis electricity-generating ‘sea snake’ onto a
mooring many kilometres offshore is a task that highlights the
challenges of making marine energy a commercially viable method of
energy. The Carbon Trust and Pelamis are
investigating an innovative remotely operated vehicle that will assist
with manoeuvring these giant machines into position. They will also
integrate remote control technology into existing systems, which will
enable deployment in rougher seas. These developments promise to
significantly reduce vessel and equipment requirements and make
installation and maintenance quicker, cheaper and safer, thereby
reducing the overall cost of the energy generated.
of Pelamis Wave Power said: "This project will allow more machines to
be installed more often and more cheaply as we will not be as reliant
on good weather conditions and specialist boats for the operation. We
have had a successful working relationship with the Carbon Trust for a
long time, so they were a natural port of call for help in developing
this technology, which will help speed the deployment of our wave power
The Carbon Trust is supporting MCT find a new method to
deploy its Seagen device, the world's first commercially operated marine power plant. The technology involves a
remotely operated subsea drilling platform that will install foundation
piles in advance of the main turbine support structure being deployed
in a single unit. This would enable smaller and less expensive support
vessels to be used for the offshore works, reducing the costs of
The MCT technology is likely to be tested in a disused quarry, and if it performs as expected, will be used in SeaGen's next deployment off Anglesey where the company is working with RWE npower renewables to deploy a 10 megawatt tidal farm, using
Martin Wright, managing director of MCT, said: "The
Carbon Trust's support [...] has enabled us to look at how we can install
farms of our SeaGen tidal energy systems cheaper and more efficiently
in the future. The trust's part-funding of the project underlines the
commercial potential that exists for MCT's pioneering tidal energy
technology to be deployed in UK waters as well as overseas."
Installation and maintenance currently account for up to 50 per cent of the
project costs of wave and tidal energy and could delay more widespread
deployment if they are not reduced.
The Marine Energy Accelerator programme brings together businesses
involved in device development, component technology manufacture,
engineering consultancy as well as academic research groups, in an
attempt to accelerate cost reduction in the industry.