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200-MW wave energy farm Costa Head in the works off Orkney

Two companies have signed up to jointly develop a 200-megawatt wave energy project off the coast of Orkney, northern Scotland.

French engineering conglomerate Alstom and Scottish marine energy company SSE Renewables entered a joint venture agreement for obtaining permits for the Costa Head Wave Project at the Crown Estate's Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters Strategic Area.

Costa Head, which could become the world's largest wave energy farm, will use the AWS-III wave energy converter developed by AWS Ocean Energy Ltd, where Alstom has a 40-percent equity share.

The AWS-III wave energy converter is a floating device with a rated power output of 2.5 MW.

The device has a multi-cell array of flexible membrane absorbers which convert wave power to pneumatic power through air compression. Turbine-generator sets convert the pneumatic power to electricity.

Measuring 16 meters wide by 8 meters deep, the device weighs less than 1,300 metric tons and can be moored in water depths of around 100 meters. They can be arranged in arrays or farms of up to several hundred megawatts' power.

SSE Renewables obtained exclusive development rights to the Costa Head site from the Crown Estate in 2010. After detailed site surveys and an environmental impact assessment, an initial phase of 10 MW will be developed before moving on to full site capacity. – Katrice R. Jalbuena

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