World's first commercial wave power station begins operation

The world�s first commercial wave power station has successfully fed electricity into the UK�s national grid, on the Scottish island of Islay, said sponsor Wavegen. The station has a 15-year power purchase agreement with Public Electricity Suppliers, Scotland. Wavegen and Queen�s University Belfast jointly developed the Land Installed Marine Powered Energy Transformer with European Union support. LIMPET is rated at 500 kw and able to provide enough electricity for about 400 local homes.


The world�s first commercial wave power station has successfully fed electricity into the UK�s national grid, on the Scottish island of Islay, said sponsor Wavegen.

The station has a 15-year power purchase agreement with Public Electricity Suppliers, Scotland.

Wavegen and Queen�s University Belfast (QUB) jointly developed the Land Installed Marine Powered Energy Transformer (LIMPET) with European Union support. LIMPET is rated at 500 kw and able to provide enough electricity for about 400 local homes.

Wavegen is backed by Unotec Holding AG, controlled by Swiss industrialist Stephan Schmidheiny; AGIP UK, a unit of Italy's ENI Group; and 3i, a European venture capital company. QUB installed a small research wave energy station on Islay in 1990. The successful operation of this plant led to the development of the LIMPET project.

Wavegen Managing Director Allan Thomson said the project demonstrates wave power has joined the important group of commercially viable, competitive, and clean forms of sustainable energy.

With modular construction and simple operation, Thomson said, it will fulfill a growing need for coastal communities all over the world, especially islands seeking to replace diesel generation with clean indigenous power.

Energy from the ocean has the potential to be a large contributor to the European energy balance in the long term, said Philippe Schild, European Commission scientific officer for LIMPET.

Established in 1992, by Prof. Alan Wells, inventor of the Wells Turbine, and Allan Thomson, Wavegen pioneered the research, development, and manufacture of wave power systems.

The LIMPET device is a 0.5Mw commercial wave energy converter providing power to the grid and is designed to operate on the shoreline. Alternatively, LIMPET units may be incorporated within rubble mounds or caisson breakwaters to provide self-financing coastal protection schemes, providing power or potable water to local communities, the company reported.

LIMPET is an oscillating water column (OWC) with Wells Turbine power take-off. The OWC consists of an inclined concrete tube with its opening below the water level. External wave action causes the water level in the collector to oscillate.

This variation in water level alternately compresses and decompresses the trapped air above causing air to flow backwards and forwards through a pair of contra-rotating turbines. The self-rectifying turbines are driven in the same direction irrespective of the direction of the air flow. Each of the two turbines is mounted on a shaft of a 250kW F3 Series Alstom induction machine.

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