Plugging into wave power to boost profits

New connection technology developed by an Aberdeen based engineering group claims to shave weeks from installation times on offshore wave power generation sites. This could deliver greater crew safety as well as significant savings.

The essence of the innovation is the adaption and modification of existing connector box systems to a ruggedized marine system that can be fitted on a barge deck at sea, under most weather conditions.

Many technology interests are investing time and resources in marine based power as it rapidly develops into one of the most promising industry sectors. Wave and tidal power generators are in operation in several sites around the world, including Portugal and Orkney.

One of the more obvious issues when installing a marine based power generation facility is the unpredictability of tides and waves. Ironically, the same massive forces of nature that are harnessed to drive the generators also make work on the installation hazardous and time consuming.

Typically, a wave or tidal generation site requires the connection of solidly shielded cables carrying 11kv over many kilometres from the generation site to shore. The new technology provides the ability to achieve this using a simplified, deck based system and delivers a major advantage.

The company that developed the system, Hydro Group Plc of Aberdeen, believes that in some cases a connection can be installed in hours, certainly no more than days, where once weeks were required. They have named the system the Hydro Bond Renewable Connector.

Given the historical involvement in offshore, marine and subsea engineering the UK boasts a large and valuable resource in terms of specialised knowledge, experienced manpower and skills. Many solutions developed for the British oil and gas, communications, defence and other industries will find application in the marine based renewable energy sector.