Falmouth seeks marine energy test site

The 'Wave Buoy' from Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), which has signed for deployment at the Wave Hub off the coast of Cornwall. The 'Wave Buoy' from Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), which has signed for deployment at the Wave Hub off the coast of Cornwall.

Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC) in the UK has submitted a licence application for an energy test site in Falmouth Bay, Cornwall.

The application has been made to the Marine Management Organisation to undertake Marine Energy Works.

The Falmouth Bay test site, known as FabTest, would enable developers to cost effectively trial wave energy devices in calm waters with easy access to the shore, prior to linking up to Wave Hub. It would not be connected to the grid.

Wave Hub is a groundbreaking £42m project that has created the world’s largest test site for devices that generate electricity from the power of waves. It consists of a giant socket on the seabed 10 miles off the coast of Hayle, connected to the national grid on shore by an underwater cable, and was installed last year.

The FabTest nursery site would give developers the chance to undertake tests to investigate structural integrity, response behaviour, mooring/umbilical behaviour, subsea components, monitoring systems and deployment procedures in moderate sea conditions before deploying their devices in more energetic offshore seas at Wave Hub.

Marine energy device developers would benefit from the provision of an integrated test site, which is fully monitored and gives access to the nearby business supply chain. The facility could also test floating wind energy devices.

FabTest is a partnership project between FHC, Wave Hub, the University of Exeter, A&P Group, Cornwall Marine Network and Mojo Maritime, all of whom would provide advice, expertise and support to the industry.

David Ellis, chairman of Falmouth Harbour Commissioners said, ‘Cornwall is fast becoming a focal point for marine energy research and development and the FabTest facility will only enhance that reputation. We are looking towards becoming a thriving community concerned with the implementation of marine energy in the South West.

‘FabTest will give developers the chance to test their devices in a less extreme environment, and will not involve costly deployment offshore. They will be able to test components, system concepts or full scale devices before progressing to Wave Hub.’

Wave Hub general manager Guy Lavender said, ‘FabTest is what the industry is telling us it needs on that critical path towards the commercialisation of wave energy. It’s a very exciting project designed to complement Wave Hub and would be a real string to our bow when it comes to what we can offer marine energy companies.’

Preliminary consultations with interested parties are taking place, and there will be further consultation as part of the process.

Dr Lars Johanning from PRIMaRE, University of Exeter said, ‘FabTest will bridge the gap from system integration and laboratory tests to the full scale commercial deployments of marine energy devices by enabling offshore system testing, demonstration and operation activities, and hence aiding the realisation of this upcoming industry.’

Mike Reynolds, port operations director at A&P Falmouth added, ‘We look forward to this important facility being established in Falmouth Bay. We know it is what our customers want if they are to develop their devices before going on to more ambitious deployments.

‘The potential to support the deployment and servicing of these devices, and in the future their construction, is a key part of our strategy to grow our business in Cornwall. The FabTest site will play a significant role in helping us to realise this growth.’

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