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Revealed: the UK's wave power 'hot spots'

17 October 2012

New research, released today (October 17) by the Carbon Trust, has taken the most detailed look to date into the most suitable locations for the development of UK wave energy.

The findings have resulted in a 'hot spotting' of locations around the UK where the best balance of wave resource versus the cost of exploitation can be found.  The results show that sites on the edge of the UK's continental shelf, such as the edge of the Rockall Trough, some 100km from shore will be the most economically attractive to exploit in the coming years.  These sites could generate power some 50 percent cheaper than sites currently being developed.

Dr Stephen Wyatt at the Carbon Trust said the new research identifies the major wave frontages for commercial development in the coming years. "If we can continue to innovate to prove the technology at scale and to bring down costs then there is every reason to believe that wave power can be providing a significant contribution to our energy needs out to 2050."

Key findings of the report:
- The most economic areas, some 100Km from shore on the edge of the UK's continental shelf primarily off the West Coast of Scotland (off Lewis and Uist)  could be 50 percent cheaper than sites currently being developed, but will require further technology innovation to make them viable.

- That wave energy devices could extract up to 95 TWh per year of useful energy from the sea.  32-42 TWh per year could realistically be extracted taking into account practical and economic constraints.  32-42 TWh per year equates to over 10GW of wave energy capacity.

- 42 TWh is equivalent to 11 percent of the UK's current power generation and would require wave farms totalling around 500Km in length.  

- Cost analysis suggests floating wave devices will be installed up to 150km offshore, to maximise energy capture from Atlantic swells. Near shore wave devices have fewer sites to choose from, but can also make a significant contribution.

- The best sites have the potential to provide energy 50 percent cheaper than current estimates for the first wave arrays, because the resource is significantly higher. Using iterations of today's technology, energy could theoretically be extracted from these sites at 20-25.3p/kWh. The Cost of wave energy will reduce further as the industry develops at scale.

The report can be downloaded here.


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