Work to begin next week on undersea socket for Cornwall's pioneering marine energy test centre
Construction on the £42m Wave Hub project off the coast of Cornwall is to start next week with the goal of having the flagship facility up and running by the end of next year.
The Wave Hub, which will be based 10 miles off the north coast of Cornwall, will feature a large grid-connected "socket" on the seabed that will allow up to four different marine energy devices to connect to it at any one time. As a result, marine energy companies will be able to field-test devices for a number of years without the need to gain additional planning consent.
The Hub will be connected by an undersea cable to a new electricity sub-station on the site of a former power station.
Work on the sub-station will start in January and is expected to take six months to complete. The Wave Hub device will then be deployed and the sub-sea cable laid next summer, when the device is expected to become operational.
The announcement comes as the Wave Hub project announced that it has appointed Guy Lavender - formely a director for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games - as general manager for the project.
Stephen Peacock, executive director of enterprise and innovation at the South West Regional Development Agency, said he hopes the device will put the area at the forefront of marine energy development in the UK. "Our aim is to create an entirely new low carbon industry in the South West and hundreds of quality jobs, " he said.
The Wave Hub is being funded with £12.5m from the South West RDA, £20m from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme and £9.5m from the UK government.
The South West development authority expect investment in local marine energy programmes to reach £100m over the next two years.
The Wave Hub project has been widely praised by the marine energy industry and three developers have already secured access to the berths - Fred Olsen Limited, Ocean Power Technologies and Orecon - with a number of developers reported to be in talks about using the fourth berth.
However, the latest stage of the project comes as industry group the BWEA last week warned that the government is failing to adequately support the sector and recommended greater funding is needed to help developers get from the concept stage to full commercial scale generators.
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