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.

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

  1. Nobby Nobbs June 3, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Personally I’d be happy for an off shore wind turbine.
    Or perhaps one, on one of the uninhabited islands
    I think they look beautiful,
    Plus they provide free clean electricity

  2. Phil Kithil June 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Better find out what is the REAL cost before you make assumptions about the benefits. If each system only produces 150kW, by the looks of it alone I guess the cost per kWh will be well above 50 pence per kilo-watt-hour (kWh). How good is that compared to what you pay now?

    In fact, few if any wave energy systems are economically feasible at this time. Maybe some will get their cost down under 15 pence/kWh but it could take a while. I know, I am one of them!!

    • Mark Prebble June 3, 2013 at 7:31 am

      Phil, is not the use of a cost benefit analysis that focuses solely on the economic costs and fails to take account of the wider benefits of limited value.

      The development of innovation has never come cheap and world changing ideas and technologies that push the boundaries and the limits of acceptance by society will help challenge the mindset of those who think business as usual is the way forward.

      Those who are seeking ways of moving away form the use of increasingly expensive and geopolitically constrained resources are to be applauded and supported. Your ideas and those of others will eventually produce a viable technology that will help move our society to the low carbon model we require for a sustainable future.

      Yes we may have to pay more for our energy in the future but if it means a healthier, less destructive and more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren then is there an argument against it?

  3. Jeff Eastick June 1, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Sounds great but dont hold your breath. Likely to be many years before such a scheme can become viable but hope trials prove to be successful and that they may lead to greater things in the future. Certainly seems to be the way to go , especially for Scilly , but scientists have been trying to find successful way to harness the power of the tides for several years , with many different designs so hope this one takes us forward in this quest.

  4. Binky May 31, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    What a delicious thought Nobby, a community funded project that makes money, helps mitigate climate change and blends into the environment. Why has nobody thought of this before?

  5. Nobby Nobbs May 31, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Most excellent!
    Can we the islanders buy into the project, so we can own the generators and share in the profits?.
    We could be be used to maintain the plant
    Perhaps an off shore Turbine as well
    It could be called the Isles of Scilly Electric co.

    As the article states, we could be energy self surficent. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Ian T. June 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      And…. it could be based at Tideline (nee Turnstone Gifts) which was the home of the ‘Isles of Scilly Electrical Supply Company’ until nationalisation after WW2.. Not many people remember that now, I’m sure. Much of the original and decidedly lethal wiring was still in use in that building when we took over in 1993.