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E.ON at EMEC

Project Overview

Customer: E.ON UK

Project: Deployment and testing of first P2 Pelamis generator.

 

Location: EMEC North berth, 2km west of Orkney Mainland.

Capacity: 0.75 MW

Status: Under test

 

 

E.ON at EMEC

“This is an incredibly exciting project that we hope will contribute towards the commercialisation of this technology, both in the UK and in the rest of the world."

Amaan Lafayette, Marine Development Manager, E.ON UK

E.ON at EMEC

The E.ON project, located off the west coast of the Orkney mainland, is a three year programme to test a P2 Pelamis machine at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

Designed and built by Pelamis and owned by E.ON, the P2 machine is the first of a second generation of Pelamis wave energy converters and the first wave machine to be sold to a utility for operation in the UK.

The machine will be operating at EMEC alongside a similar P2 machine owned by ScottishPower Renewables. The two utilities have a working agreement to maximise the learning from operating and maintaining the machines as a wave farm.

The testing or ‘work-up’ programme is structured through a series of weather states, each with progressively higher wave heights. The Pelamis machine will be tested over a defined period of time in each state before graduating to the next.  This approach allows progressive management of risk for the technology, and ability to find and handle any unexpected technical issues as they arise. See our page about 'Testing & Verification' for more information on this approach.

The learning and experience gained from the project will be used by E.ON in the development of a 50MW wave farm located to the north of EMEC.  The project could see up to 66 Pelamis machines connected to the UK grid and was awarded an agreement for lease from The Crown Estate in 2010.


E.ON's Pelamis P2 at EMEC

Photo: E.ON's Pelamis P2 at EMEC, April 2011


Project Updates

The E.ON P2 machine was successfully installed onsite for the first time in October 2010 and generated electricity to the national grid within a few hours of connection. In over a year of progressive testing since then, Pelamis and E.ON have celebrated the following significant achievements:

  • Efficiency & Performance

The Pelamis machine has continuously ran all generators for sustained periods and demonstrated a full ‘wave-to-wire’ conversion efficiency of well over 70%, which was our target for the P2. These initial results indicate that in larger seas and with higher pressure operation, the machine is likely to exceed our design specification for conversion efficiency. Engineers at Pelamis are delighted that their analysis and testing to keep driving down losses in the power take-off system has paid off.

Pelamis Wave Power has measured capture widths approaching 20m in small seas.  The capture width of a machine is the width of wave front from which all the energy is extracted.  Even though the Pelamis is only 4m wide it can capture a much greater width of wave front.  The theoretical maximum capture widths of the Pelamis are much higher still and we will continue to work towards these limits through improved control of the machine response. For more information about the power capture abilities of Pelamis see 'Power Capture'.

  • Smooth Wave Power into the Grid

Even at this early stage of testing and in small sea conditions of average significant wave height below 4m, the Pelamis machine has been absorbing bursts of power in excess of 3MW. These highly variable peaks have been converted into smooth 30 minute average electrical output of 170kW, in line with our expectations for this stage of the tests. Electricity generation peaked at over 300kW in this period.

To date only conservative and fall back safety control modes have been in operation as we ‘shake-down’ the machine. Generated powers are expected to rise substantially with future operations as the work-up programme progresses and as we ramp up the control and power take-off systems.

  • Installation & Removal Operations Proven

The new installation and removal systems, developed with the support of the Carbon Trust, have proven their worth with smooth and safe connection and disconnection of the machine whilst in conditions  up to 2.25m significant wave height so far. That’s pretty choppy, with individual waves of around 4m high, and sufficient to make intervention possible year round without excessive waiting on weather, which as an enabling factor of commercial marine energy. The removal operation has also been conducted using a single vessel instead of the two that were required previously. The tests have also proven the use of the local Orkney Towage vessels, hired by the hour, to tow the machine out to the EMEC site and to hold the machine heading during the automated installation operation.

The machine has been fully installed and grid connected within 100 minutes of arriving on site, and at the end of an installation period it has been removed from site with a 12 minute operation. These times are set to reduce further as experience is gained and systems are improved.

Video above: The Pelamis P2 generating electricity from EMEC in December 2010