Memorandum submitted by Ocean Power Delivery
Ocean Power Delivery Ltd (OPD) is an Edinburgh
based company developing the Pelamis Offshore Wave Energy Converter.
In brief, the Pelamis WEC is a long articulated cylinder, floating
semi-submerged and moored so as to swing head-on to the incident
waves. The wave-induced motion of the joints between segments
is resisted by hydraulic rams configured as pumps. These pump
oil through motors to generate electricity. For more information
please contact OPD or visit the website at www.oceanpd.com
OPD welcomes this opportunity to submit written
evidence to the Science & Technology Committee at what is
a pivotal moment in the development of wave energy. We would also
welcome the opportunity to contribute oral evidence, if appropriate.
Wave energy has re-emerged as a promising source
of sustainable power, to date several shoreline systems have been
successfully installed and demonstrated. However, large scale
deployment of wave energy capacity will only be possible away
from the shoreline in deeper water where the resource is greater
and environmental and visual impact are minimised.
The UK has among the best wave energy resource
in the world. The "accessible" resource has been estimated
as being up to 840 TWh/yr (260 per cent of UK demand). However,
the likely "economically recoverable" resource has been
estimated as 50-80 TWh/yr (15-25 per cent of UK demand). Accessing
this would result in an approximately £20 billion industry
creating an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 long-term jobs (the UK
offshore industry currently employs approximately 20,000). The
world export market for wave energy systems has been estimated
to be over £500 billion.
Major advances in offshore technology since
the previous UK Wave Energy programme have removed the technical
barriers to early demonstration and commercialisation of offshore
wave energy systems such as the Pelamis. A recent study commissioned
by the DTI and carried out by Ove Arup concluded"No
major technical barriers to the development of wave energy prototypes
have been identified. All the issues raised under design, construction,
deployment and operation can be addressed by transfer of technology
from other industries, especially the offshore industry".
The UK retains a lead in wave energy but many
countries and commercial organisations around the world are active
in the field. Our lead is being eroded and we must move quickly
to ensure that the various technologies being developed in the
UK reach market ahead of the overseas competition.
The inclusion of wave energy as a technology
band within the Third Scottish Renewables Order was a visionary
step that resulted in a large increase in R&D work on wave
energy, this has attracted keen interest from the offshore sector.
OPD also welcomes the inclusion of wave energy within the DTI's
New and Renewables Energy Programme; strong support for R&D
activities sends positive signals to industry and investors. However,
we insist that development of cost-competitive wave energy systems
must, from the outset, be "market-pull" as well as "technology-push".
This follows the successful precedent set by the Danish and German
wind energy programmes of the 1980s and 90s.
It is therefore vital that commercial support
for the emerging technology is continued and significantly expanded
under the new Renewables Obligation. Unless this happens the industry
will fail to attract the private sector investment required to
ensure that the UK realises its potential to be the world-leading
supplier of wave energy systems.
Other countries are currently considering appropriate
support schemes for wave energy and if these are implemented ahead
of support in the UK, or if they offer markedly higher initial
subsidy, the technology and therefore industry will be lost to
It should be noted that the prediceted "opening"
costs for offshore wave energy are between five and seven p/kWh
depending on the particular system and the scheme size assumed.
The three commercial contracts awarded to wave energy projects
in the third round of the Scottish Renewables Obligation were
between six and seven p/kWh. These figures are markedly lower
than the entry costs of all preceding power generation technologies
including fossil fuel and nuclear plant. As for any technology,
the costs for wave energy will only fall rapidly if significant
capacity is installed.
The remainder of this document briefly addresses
the key points set out in the Call for Evidence, 11 January 2001.
1. Technological Viability
We draw the Committee's attention to the conclusions
of the recent Ove Arup study as quoted in the preceding section.
The UK has the best off-shore technology, manufacturing
and skill base in Europe. These are ideally suited to the commercial
exploitation of wave energy. There is considerable interest from
the offshore sector which is urgently seeking new areas for diversification
as its core business is set to decline over the next decade. It
is through effective technology transfer from this sector that
wave energy will succeed.
2. Commercial Viability
As mentioned earlier, predicted "opening"
costs for offshore wave energy systems are five-seven p/kWh. These
costs are significantly lower than were achieved for early onshore
wind energy and compare favourably with current costs for offshore
wind and biomass, technologies that are expected to be commercially
viable in the short term.
Experience with onshore wind energy provides
a good example of how costs fall dramatically as installed capacity
increases. Generating costs have fallen by a factor of five over
the past 20 years. In the UK contracted prices within the Non-Fossil
Fuel Obligation (NFFO) fell by almost a factor of three between
1990 and 1998. There is now over 18GW of wind energy installed
world wide with 13GW of this currently on-line in Europe.
There is no reason why wave energy costs should
not follow a similar trend.
3. Current Projects
There are currently two main UK companies actively
developing wave energy systems, Ocean Power Delivery Ltd and Wavegen
Ltd based in Inverness. Both companies have ambitious targets
for the installation of wave energy systems in the UK and around
In addition there are three main academic device
teams based at Edinburgh, Lancaster and Plymouth Universities.
The Edinburgh and Lancaster teams are working with tank test models
of the Sloped IPS Buoy and PS Frog respectively. The Plymouth
team is currently building a small-scale offshore prototype.
To date there have been four prototype demonstration
programmes in the UK.
|1. Queen's University Belfast, 75kW shoreline OWC
2. Wavegen Ltd, 2MW OSPREY nearshore OWC
|Destroyed on installation|
3. Wavegen Ltd, 500kW shoreline OWC
4. Plymouth University, SPERBOUY demonstrator
|Currently nearing completion|
It is anticipated that two further prototype systems will be installed in the UK in the near future.
1. Ocean Power Delivery Ltd, Pelamis prototype
2. Sea Power International AB, FWPV prototype
4. Renewables Strategy
Wave energy should become the key priority of the UK Government's
renewable energy strategy both in terms of R&D and commercial
development; no other new energy technology is as finely poised.
At present, wave energy is viewed by the DTI as a "Longer
Term (after 2010)" technology which has "potential if
pursued through R&D". The UK industry does not agree
with this assessment. It seems certain that the technical successes
required to trigger large industrial investment will occur over
the next two years. The UK currently leads the world in the field
but must become highly focused if it is to capitalise on this
advantage and become the world-leading supplier of commercial
wave energy systems and consultancy services.
As stated earlier, there has been a rapid increase of activity
in the field around the world and if the UK does not intensify
its R&D programme and put in place adequate commercial incentives
it will lose the technology and resulting industrial opportunity.
This is a "once-only" first-mover opportunity to
achieve a success story of a similar magnitude to the Danish wind
5. Research and Development
The Pelamis WEC is an assembly of 100 per cent "available"
technology. However, demonstration of a new WEC concept must be
approached in a responsible manner by carefully addressing all
main elements of technical risk before proceeding to a full-scale
offshore test. This can only be effectively achieved a methodical
and extensive R&D programme.
From the outset OPD has been committed to a rigorous, staged
development path. The device has been extensively tank tested
with a total of seven test programmes using four models at 80th,
35th, 33rd and 20th scales. The results of these tests have been
used to validate numerical predictions and full device simulations.
Full preliminary designs have been drafted and fully costed using
quotes from industry. The onward programme to launch of the full-scale
prototype by mid-2002 includes demonstration of the full system
at intermediate scale and extensive testing a full-scale joint
system in the laboratory. The step to a full-scale technology
demonstrator must be as pure an engineering exercise as possible,
rather than an uncertain part of the research and development
Following John Battle's 1999 announcement of the reopening
of a UK programme, wave energy has become eligible for funding
within the DTI's New and Renewable Energy Programme. The available
budget is modest at present with an estimated £0.5 million
committed during 2000-2001 and a verbal assurance that approximately
£1 million per year will be made available for the next two
years. This initiative was warmly welcomed by OPD but we feel
that the budget must expand significantly over the next few years.
We have recently completed work on our first DTI funded programme
and have provisionally secured a grant for the next stage.
The DTI programme is being managed by ETSU and is well co-ordinated.
Research is being targeted at promising schemes while still being
open to new ideas and fundamental work. All grant applications
are being peer reviewed at an early stage. OPD recognises that
ETSU is successfully performing a difficult task within the restrictions
of a limited budget.
Funding is also available to academic projects through the
EPSRC Renewable and New Energy Technologies (RNET) programme.
Finally, funding is available within the EU 5th Framework programme
for collaborative R&D projects.
6. Environmental Aspects
It is anticipated that the environmental impact of offshore
wave energy will be minimal and may in some cases be positive.
7. International Comparisons
The following countries are active in wave energy:
Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Greece, India,
Ireland, Israel, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal,
Russia, Sri Lankia, Sweden, the UK, the USA, Vietnam and the EU.
Of these only four are known to have significant, centrally
Denmark, Ireland, the UK and the EU
Denmark in particular is aggressively pursuing wave energy
through a £3 million government programme.
OPD view the serious commercial competition to be active
Australia, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands,
Portugal, Sweden and the UK.
OPD has worked closely with the Commission for Wave Power
in Scotland, the Scottish Renewables Forum Ltd and the Scottish
Parliamentary Renewable Energy Group to set out the following
proposal for supporting the demonstration and commercialisation
of wave energy in the UK.
1. The budget available on the DTI wave programme should
be significantly increased.
2. Technologies that have already been successfully demonstrated
(namely shoreline oscillating water columns) should be offered
immediate capital grant assistance within the new Renewables Obligation
(RO) to allow further plant to be installed.
3. A UK wave energy test site should be set up as soon
as possible to allow promising offshore concepts to be installed
4. Once a concept has been successfully demonstrated
it should be offered significant capital grant assistance within
the RO (on at least the same scale as proposed for offshore wind)
until costs fall to the point where it becomes competitive with
mainstream renewables. It is anticipated that with appropriate
support this will be achieved before 2010.
10 February 2001