Wind- , hydropower and solar energy are the common alternatives of energy production, not so familiar is the generation of electricity by waves and current power plants. But the focus of attention drifts more and more to this kind of energy generation. In the near future could 15% of the global energy consumption be covered by the potential of our oceans, forecasts the World Energy Council in London.
In the South of Belfast are already 1000 households provided by oceanic energy. Two under-water turbines generate 1.2 Megawatt in the first commercial tidal power station in Strangford. Strangford has so far the most efficient commercial tidal power station in the world.
So if in the near future in Mutriku, a small fishing village at the Basque Atlantic coastline the lights go on, will the thunderous breakers of the Atlantic Ocean be responsible. In Mitruku comes a unique wave energy plant into existence. But it’s not build in the wide ocean, but in the harbor of the village.
The plant will consists of 16 oscillating water columns (OWCs)or chambers, forming a total collector length of approximately 100m, in which 16 Wells turbines will be installed (one per OWC). Each turbine will have a rated capacity of 18.5 kW, giving a total installed capacity of 0.3 MW. The facility will also contain control and power conversion equipment, a transformer and a line connecting to the power grid.
The plant will be supplied turnkey by Voith Siemens Hydro, Tolosa. The technology is being developed by Wavegen, also a member of the Voith-Siemens group. The plant has an anticipated annual production capacity of 600,000 kWh—equivalent to the domestic power consumption of 600 people.
Javier Marqués, Renewable Energies Director, the Ente Vasco de la Energia (EVE), sees in the Mitruku project only the beginning of oceanic energy. The Basque region with its 200 km long coastline could be ideal for further wave energy plants. The plants could provide 10% of the total Basque energy. But looking further the future lies 5-7 miles on the open sea, with stronger waves and more potential, says Javier Marques.
Mitruku had the advantage that the plant was build into an existing harbor mole that needed renovation. Therefore were the costs minimized to 1,7 mil. € for the plants technique (Eve) and 4 mil. € for the mole extension (regional government).