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Sustainable wave energy event 18th May 2016 and branch AGM

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Martin Gosden, the Branch Chairman, conducted a brisk AGM, introduced the committee, got agreement of the 2015 AGM minutes, reviewed the past year and looked forward to the next. Peter Wakeling, the Branch Treasurer, discussed the financial statement. Following election of the committee, the Chairman introduced our speaker for tonight, Claire Gibson, Managing Director of Wave Hub.

Tonight’s presentation follows on neatly from last year’s AGM which looked at the proposed Swansea Tidal Lagoon project.

Claire introduced Wave Hub as the world’s largest and most advanced test site for wave energy arrays. It consists of an on shore substation at Hayle, connected to the National Grid, a 25 km subsea cable which connects to 8 sq km of sea bed 16 km off shore from St Ives. It has a potential capacity of 48 MW.  Wave Hub provides a dedicated operations team to support wave energy device developers.

The undersea cable is buried and protected.  There is a splitter at the test area which allows 4 arrays to be tested at any one time. The laying of the undersea cable was a major operation.

Local support for Wave Hub is excellent and it is currently planned to transfer ownership from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to Cornwall Council.

The Wave Hub project was initiated in 2002/03 with a review and was built and commissioned in 2010. The first device was deployed in 2014. Development cost £5M, build £30M and running costs are £1.5M annually. It was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), at £18.55M and UK Government at £22.15M.  Running costs are paid by BIS, but the intention is that it becomes self funding with fees from device developers.

The original procurement strategy was to seek a prime contractor, but due to the nature of the market no one supplier could deliver the whole package economically, therefore the work was split into 8 packages with Wave Hub managing the integration risk.

The UK Government drivers for investment in the project were for renewable energy, energy security, and support for innovation. Local drivers were tapping into unused natural resources, building on existing industrial heritage and technical innovation as well as job creation.  There is huge potential for wave energy generation worldwide and UK seeks to gain 22% of the market.

Claire described the approach being taken by a number of developers in the wave power generation business: Seatricity, Forum/Wello, Carnegie Wave Energy, and a floating off shore wind concept. 

Wave Hub is extending its portfolio of test sites to a Pembrokeshire sea bed site, and a North Devon tidal energy site.

Claire shared her lessons from the project:

  • Governance. It is essential to be clear about who can take what decisions. Establish a diverse team of experts. Hold regular progress reviews against the agreed objectives. Involve key stakeholders early and get their buy-in. 
  • Invest sufficient time. Such a project is complex, involving many stakeholders and approvals. It started in 2002, but the first device was not deployed until 2014.
  • Procurement planning. Follow the rules, they are there to help!. Do use procurement experts. Understand and work with the likely supply chain. Don’t be afraid to pause and reflect.
  • Embrace risk. The South West Regional Development Agency (RDA) had a healthy appetite for risk. Risk can be managed and mitigated. Risk needs to be regularly reviewed. Be prepared to adapt your plans.
  • Work in partnership. Seek expert advice. Invest time and energy into effective Stakeholder management with your partners
  • Integrated package. Wave Hub is one part of a number of initiatives and it is important to seek synergies and target investment effectively.
  • Lead from the front. Don’t be afraid to do something different. Someone has to lead, why not you. Many countries are following UK’s lead.
  • Hold on to your vision. Don’t allow your focus to be distracted by events and issues, keep aiming towards achieving your vision.

The evening concluded with a lively question and answer session.

The presentation slides are available to view below or on the Resource Page of the APM web site.

Martin Gosden
SWWE Branch Chairman


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