This will be the first commercial scale scheme in the UK generating ‘clean' electricity created through wave energy. The project is expected to produce four megawatts of electricity - enough energy to meet the annual needs of around 1500 homesFN1.
It is anticipated that the Siadar Wave Energy Project, which will use Voith Hydro Wavegen's Oscillating Water Column technology, could lead to further similar schemes and be part of the birth of a new industry in the Western Isles and the rest of the UK.
Marine specialist VolkerStevin Marine, in a joint venture with Westminster Dredging, has been awarded preferred contractor status for the design and construction contract for the wave energy power scheme. The project team, working alongside RWE npower renewables and Voith Hydro Wavegen, is currently undertaking a feasibility study looking at the construction design and viability with the aim of fabrication works starting in 2010.
Speaking about the multimillion pound contract, John Lovell at VolkerStevin Marine, said: "This is an exciting time for renewable energy development in the UK. The first commercially viable wave energy power project has been long awaited and we are pleased to be working with RWE npower renewables and Voith Hydro Wavegen to make this become a reality.
"We still have work to do on the design and construction of the project in terms of its continued viability and the engineering techniques required, but we are confident we can produce a scheme for our client that could be functional by 2012."
Chris Pasteur Development & Construction Manager at RWE npower renewables, said: "The Siadar Wave Energy Project has the potential to put the UK at the forefront of the world's wave energy industry. The combined skills and expertise of our preferred contractors VolkerStevin Marine and Westminster Dredging will be a major asset to the development of the project which was granted planning consent by the Scottish Government earlier this year.
He added: "Having received planning consent and appointed our preferred contractors we are now ready to start construction. However prior to this we require the Scottish Government's decision on funding which is critical to ensuring the project's future success."
Local businesses are expected to benefit from the planned 18 month construction period and longer term, from the improvments to sea access. The project has the potential to create around 50 direct jobs during the construction phase which will also support other businesses to the benefit of the Western Isles economy.
The near shore structure to house the wave powered turbines would involve the construction of a concrete breakwater structure. This would be built in sections (approximately 50 metres in length) in a dry dock, before being floated out to the site and immersed on the prepared seabed.
Foot Note 1 (FN1)
It is estimated that the Siadar Wave Energy Project will produce approximately 8,000 MWh per year based on an assumed capacity of 4.0 MW. This is enough electricity to supply the average annual electricity needs of around 1,500 UK homes, equal to a fifth of all homes on Lewis and Harris, each year. This is based on the UK average domestic electricity consumption of approximately 4,700 kWh over the life of the project. This figure may change as average domestic consumption changes.