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Wave Hub and Cable Prepared for Subsea Installation

19 July 2010

The latest stage of South West RDA’s (Regional Development Agency) pioneering Wave Hub project is underway as the hub and its 25km cable are loaded onto a cable laying ship ready for deployment offshore in the next few weeks.

Wave Hub is creating the world’s largest test site for wave energy technology by building a grid-connected socket on the seabed, 16 kilometres off the coast of Cornwall, to which wave power devices can be connected and their performance evaluated.

The £42 million project has been developed by the South West RDA and is a cornerstone of its strategy to develop a world class marine energy industry in South West England.

The cable, which weighs 1,300 tonnes and cost £7 million to make, is being spooled directly from the JDR Cable Systems’ factory in Hartlepool onto the cable laying ship MV Nordica at a rate of 400 metres per hour. The delicate operation is running 24 hours a day and will take around five days to complete.

The Nordica has been chartered by CTC Marine Projects based in Darlington, County Durham, which has been appointed by the South West RDA to lay the cable and install Wave Hub on the seabed.

The RDA’s Wave Hub general manager, Guy Lavender, said: “This is a major milestone for Wave Hub and has been planned with military precision. We’ve already connected Wave Hub to the cable so it has been loaded first, followed by the cable itself. The whole operation needs to be carried out with great care so it will be a nail biting time for the whole team, but they are very experienced.

“After that the Nordica will head for the north Cornwall coast to start the cable laying operation, and weather permitting we expect Wave Hub to be in the water in early August. This will be followed by a rock dumping operation to hold the hub and cable in place, ready for the first wave energy devices to be deployed in 2011.”
Martin Moon, operations director at CTC Marine, said: “CTC recognises the importance of renewable energy to the UK and believes Wave Hub is a significant milestone that opens up another avenue in the renewables market.

“CTC is pleased to be participating in what we hope will be the start of many such developments. We believe we can bring a significant contribution and become a major provider to this emerging business.”

During its manufacture Wave Hub’s cable has been coiled horizontally around two giant 30 metre diameter rotating ‘spools’ or carousels in JDR’s factory, each of which can carry 2,200 tonnes. The 33,000 volt cable has been manufactured in one continuous length and is made up of six copper cores, 48 fibre optic cables, two layers of steel wire armouring and an outer polymer sheath. It is 16 centimetres in diameter.

The cable is being spooled onto a 2,000 tonne capacity carousel measuring 15 metres in diameter and 10 metres high and positioned on the rear deck of the Nordica. The operation is due to be completed before the end of this week.

Wave Hub is being funded with £12.5 million from the South West RDA, £20 million from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme and £9.5 million from the UK government.

An independent economic impact assessment has calculated that Wave Hub could create 1,800 jobs and inject £560 million in the UK economy over 25 years. Almost 1,000 of these jobs and £332 million could be generated in South West England.