Energy futureFirst commercial wave farm operates in Portugal

Published 16 January 2008

Scottish company Pelamis has been operating the world’s first commercial wave energy farm, located off the coast line of Portugal, for a year now

The Washington State wave energy farm is the first one to be constructed in the United States, but other countries have been trying to exploit the energy potential of waves for a while now. Note that the world’s first commercial wave farm is the Aguçadoura project, launched in a site five kilometers off the Atlantic coast line of northern Portugal (the base station is located in Aguçadoura, giving the project its name). Scottish firm Pelamis Wave Power (formerly Ocean Power Delivery), with help from Manchester Metropolitan University, has launched the project in 2006, using Pelamis’s snake-like wave energy converter. The university’s Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Flow Analysis (CMMFA), led by Professor Derek Causon and Clive Mingham, ran the testing to evaluate the reliability and robustness of the Pelamis devices. They used a complex mathematical model to run simulations of different conditions to see how violent weather and sea movements could effect the device. “It is very expensive to carry out full-scale trials of wave energy devices,” said Mingham. “But for us we can change the parameters in our modelling programmes to simulate whatever conditions are necessary.” Causon added that “We used computational fluid dynamics to model the device. Constant wave impact can be quite severe so we used differential equations for the movement of the sea to model the survivability of the units.”

The twenty MW project consists of a series of semi-submerged snake-like units from Pelamis. The farm will be able to power 13,500 homes.