Scilly Could Be Self Sufficient In Energy If Wave Power Test Successful

wave power 40south energy
Scilly could become self sufficient in energy and an exporter of electricity to the mainland if a novel wave power trial is successful.

That’s the hope of inventor Dr Michele Grassi, whose company 40South Energy has applied to install three wave power generators on the seabed off Scilly. The company has strong links to Plymouth University and has just opened a new office in the city.

They’ve already identified a site 600m off the coast of St Mary’s, south of the airport, and are applying for permits to install their technology.

Michele says Scilly is the best place in the whole southwest region for generating electricity because of the wave energy here. And he also thinks islanders themselves would be receptive to the idea of generating green energy.

They’re working with Devon marine contractors Keynvor Morlift, and Michele says there’s a long list of agencies who they need permission from including the Marine Management Organisation, The Council, The Duchy, Natural England and Crown Estates.

From Radio Scilly

Michele Grassi from 40South Energy talks about the wave power trial planned for Scilly

It’s difficult to predict when they’ll receive the final go ahead, especially as the technology is so new, he added.

The wave power systems that 40South Energy want to trial here are very novel compared to the rest of the market. They sit in up to 50m of water and remain completely submerged, rather than bobbing on the surface.

When the water gets rough, such as when there’s a storm, the generator actually moves deeper, in effect protecting itself from bad weather. Michele says this is important because older systems had to be ‘over engineered’ to survive poor sea conditions long term.

He thinks his generators will have at least a twenty-year lifespan.

Another advantage, and one that’s important in Scilly, a marine conservation area, is that they are invisible from the surface except for an illuminated marker buoy to warn shipping. They’ve chosen a site that’s away from the main fishing areas and the only danger would come with trawling, which isn’t allowed here anyway.

There will eventually be three units in place, each generating 150kW of energy, enough to power around 350 homes.

And while all the energy generated in this small trial is likely to be absorbed on the islands, in the future the flow of energy could reverse and we could actually be exporting energy back to the mainland.

But generating power for the National Grid would be “a different game altogether,” says Michele, and would require much bigger generators in deeper water and further from the coast.

40South Energy is a private company with no direct government funding and Michele says that could open up some novel ways for people to invest in the technology. They’re looking at ‘crowdsourcing’ as a way of funding projects, which could have benefits for inward investment on the islands.

Michele says as soon as they have the permits they’ll start working on the installation and, weather permitting, the generators could be in place by the end of the year.

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