Vattenfall snaps up final Emec berth in Orkney for Pelamis' P2

Swedish energy giant Vattenfall has signed up to take the last remaining berth at European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland’s Orkney Island with a view to putting a single Pelamis P2 wave energy machine through its paces starting in 2014.

The deal comes hand-in-hand with Vattenfall’s confirmation that it will buy a first next-generation device later this year from the Edinburgh-based Pelamis, so long as it is "confident” that it could move ahead with its landmark Aegir wave farm project off the Shetland Islands – a caveat that hinges on an electricity export cable being laid between the islands and the Scottish mainland.

“If Vattenfall is to use ocean energy to support its long term shift to low carbon generation it needs to be confident that the technology it uses will be safe, reliable and productive. That is why we plan to purchase Pelamis’ latest machine and test it at Emec in Orkney,” says Veijo Huusko, Vattenfall’s head of low-emitting energy research and development.

“However, the final decision on purchasing a machine for testing will, in part, be based on our expectation of there being an interconnector cable being laid between the Shetland Islands and the Scottish mainland.”

SSE, the transmission operator in the north of Scotland, has said that it would set up a high voltage direct current interconnector between the Shetland Islands and the mainland, notes Vattenfall, “once there was sufficient generation capacity to justify the investment”.

Richard Yemm, commercial director and founder of Pelamis, says: "Vattenfall's plans to purchase and test a Pelamis system alongside the existing P2 machines at Emec is a further signal that we are ready to commence the transition to commercialisation.

"Constructing a final machine in the P2 series will allow us to further optimise the design to deliver an additional step reduction in cost of energy prior to commencing production of the world's first commercial wave farms."

Vattenfall is in a joint venture with Pelamis to develop the Aegir wave power project, starting with an array with a capacity of up to 10MW. Environmental and resource assessments are currently underway ahead of an expected planning application to Marine Scotland in 2014.

For the first stage development a flagship P2 would be joined by a further nine machines.

Vattenfall recently signed a partnership with the Shetland Council and Shetland Charitable Trust to work jointly to investigate the possibility of further expansion of wave farm off Scotland, if the operation of that pilot Aegir array proves successful.