Subsea installation of the world's largest test facility for wave energy technology was imminent as OE went to press, with the loading of the UK South West Regional Development Agency's pioneering Wave Hub and its 25km power cable onto a cable laying ship ready for deployment offshore in the next few weeks.
Under this £42 million project, a grid-connected socket is being installed on the seabed 16km off the coast of Cornwall, to which wave power devices can be connected and their performance evaluated. The site, in up to 50m of water, will allow Wave Energy Converter developers the opportunity to test WEC arrays over several years in a fully monitored marine environment, and export their generated electricity to the local grid.
The £7 million cable, weighing in at 1300t, was manufactured at JDR Cable Systems' new state-of-the-art factory in Hartlepool. In a delicate, 24-hours a day operation begun on 20 July, the cable was being spooled onto a 2000t capacity carousel measuring 15m in diameter and 10m high and positioned on the rear deck of the cable laying ship Nordica. Loading was scheduled to take four or five days to complete, at an anticipated rate of 400m per hour. JDR manufactured the 160mm diameter, 33,000 volt cable in one continuous length, made up of six copper cores, 48 fibre optic cables, two layers of steel wire armouring and an outer polymer sheath (OE September 2009).
Nordica is under charter to CTC Marine Projects which, weather permitting, expected to have the Wave Hub installed on the seabed in early August, with the beach pull taking place first, followed by the cable lay, deployment of the hub itself and burial (by Tideway) of part of the cable route. The new facility is expected to be ready for the first wave energy devices to be deployed in 2011. OE