he UK has the most powerfulwind and wave resource inEurope and is equallyblessed with a land massthat channels tidal currents intofocused areas of potential energy. Thisis fortunate since a diverse portfolio of renewable energy sources will beneeded to deliver clean energy securityin the future. The unique location of each individual nation making up theBritish Isles also allows for morefocused strategies to evolve aroundtechnologies that can empower thenatural strengths available. In relationto offshore wind, wave and tidalstream energy, any country with acoastline has a substantial powersource on its doorstep. Wave energy ismoreconcentrated along west coastsand tidal stream tends to be localisedaround particular hot spots. Betweenthem, they could provide a substantialamount of electricity globally.Whencombining this with the strong aircurrents offthe UK coast, recent workbyOxfordUniversity has shown thatthe result is significant, secure,constant energy.Many countries arenow looking to the sea in order toassess how to deliver this energy intotheir electricity grid effectivelyand with minimal environmentalimpact.
Wild and windy
Currently, due to significantdeployment globally, wind turbinesare the most economically attractiveoption to harness the available poweraround the UK. Three strategic areasin the UK have been allocated for thedevelopment of offshore wind farms.These are around the Wash, theThames and the Northern Irish Sea.Three farms have now been built,amounting to some 210MWs of energy, the equivalent of supplyingaround 137,000 UK homes. By 2010this number is expected to rise toaround 3,000MWs, over three per centof UK electricity supply.One projectalone, the London Array in theThames Gateway will provide 25 percent of London’sdomestic electricityrequirements by the time theOlympics comes to the Capital in2012.
Wave and tide
Wave and tidal technologies are lessdeveloped but no less exciting interms of prospective power providers.Anumber of countries have putsubstantial amounts of support intoR&D to assess the likelihood of cost-competitive marine energy, with theUK presently at the forefront of thisglobal challenge.There are currently only a handful of full-scale wave energy devices in theseas around the world, two of whichare located in UK waters. One is ashoreline device called Limpet on theIsle of Islay, the other is a deep waterconverter called Pelamis, located off the Orkney coast. Ocean PowerDelivery, developers of Pelamis, havereceived a large amount of interest intheir technology and are due to buildthe first offshore wave project off thePortuguese coast in 2006. This will bearound 3MWs in size but shouldtrigger enough confidence in this areato see up to 100MWs of both waveand tidal stream technologies in UKwaters alone by 2010, rising to around500MWs by 2015, the equivalent of
Michael Hay from the British Wind Energy Association takesalook at the latest from UK wind, wave and tidal technologiesand their potential contribution to a carbon-free energyresource.
North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm
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