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East coast to pioneer wave power

PUBLISHED: 09:21 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:23 05 July 2010

A pioneering machine which converts wave power into cheap electricity is set to be tested off the East Anglian coast.

An energy company is seeking permission to site its prototype wave energy convertor six miles off the coast at Southwold by the spring.

A pioneering machine which converts wave power into cheap electricity is set to be tested off the East Anglian coast.

An energy company is seeking permission to site its prototype wave energy convertor six miles off the coast at Southwold by the spring.

If successful, it could be the forerunner for a series of wave farms around the UK coastline and provide a huge boost to the country's efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Essex-based Trident Energy is behind the pilot scheme, in which generators are driven to produce electricity by floats being pushed up in the waves.

While the trial equipment is on a smaller scale, it is believed a full-size wave farm of less than half a square mile could generate enough electricity to power 62,000 homes.

Trident managing director Hugh-Peter Kelly said: “It will provide a serious contribution in the future towards reducing carbon emissions. There is enough energy in the sea around the UK to provide a fifth of the country's electrical needs.

“If we take it forward in the future, it has the potential to provide a very considerable number of jobs and employment potential.”

The trial equipment, being built at a Lowestoft boatyard, is known as Trident Energy 3 and consists of a small platform, measuring about 15 sq m, supported by submerged pontoons anchored to the sea bed.

During the trial, the electricity will be disposed of at the platform, but in a real-life commercial operation it would be sent back to the land by cables and connected to the national grid.

Mr Kelly, who was not yet prepared to discuss the cost of the project, added: “The platform uses an entirely novel and British-invented noiseless technology to convert the massive potential energy of sea waves to electricity.

“At this stage, it is a modestly-sized pilot… but represents an exciting potential addition to offshore wind power.”

Tests of earlier equipment have already been successfully passed at the New and Renewable Energy Centre in the North-East and Trident has applied to position its next machine off Southwold for a year.

The eastern region has embraced the offshore power industry and Mr Kelly revealed this had played a major factor in his company choosing to trial its equipment here.

“We have found a great deal of willingness, co-operation and enthusiasm in this part of the country which has enabled us to take the project forward,” he said.

Trident has applied to the Marine and Fisheries Agency, which is acting on behalf of Defra, for permission to carry out the trials at Southwold.

An agency spokesman said officers would seek the opinion of other organisations such as the Environment Agency and Maritime and Coastguard before coming to a decision.

The plans can be viewed at the Southwold Tourist Information office in High Street and comments can be made until February 5.

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