Race on to harness wavepower for energy


Battles are being drawn in a fight to be the world leader in the next generation of alternative energy - wavepower.

Commercial marine technologies being developed by Americans, Germans, Australians and Scots are ranged against each other. In the latest move to ride the tide in what the companies hope will become the age of the wave, Australian Oceanlinx is coming to London looking to raise £35 million (about  €50 million, $72 million) and float on the junior market Aim.

The flotation, led by British chief executive David Weaver, will value Oceanlinx at £90 million and see it join £80 million (€114.7 million, $165.3 million)-rated American company Ocean Power Technologies on Aim. Weaver says Oceanlinx is raising the cash not only to build six units which it has promised to deliver to its projects in Cornwall, Australia, the US and off southern Africa but also to give a muchneeded boost to the profile of what has hitherto been seen as the Cinderella of the renewable energy sector.

„Wave energy needs to have an established leader and we believe we are that natural leader,” said Weaver. „The world is looking for the next alternative energy to wind. We are the next story.” The pioneering test centre in the UK for the viability of marine energy, using waves to power electricity generating turbines or hydraulic pumps anchored to the sea bed, is the Wave Hub, 10 miles off the north coast of Cornwall.

The Government-funded Wave Hub is a £28 million. 4.5 square mile project in which four competing technologies are aiming from next year to generate 20 megawatts of electricity, to power 7500 homes in the county. Oceanlinx and OPT have their own owned-and-operated kit on the Wave Hub. Surfboarders at Newquay have already been complaining that their surf is being affected. Another major wavepower player Pelamis is also on the Wave Hub, teaming with energy giant E.ON.

Formerly Ocean Power Delivery, Pelamis is chaired by Colin Moynihan, the former Tory minister who hasmade a fortune out of wind power. Pelamis is leading the way in the UK, building a 3MW wavefarm with Scottish Power off the Orkneys. Its backers include Merrill Lynch fund Blackrock, Norsk Hydro and General Electric.

A Scottish pioneer, Wavegen, has been taken over by Siemens of Germany. Oceanlinx claims it is the global leader, developing what will be the world’s largest wavefarm, generating 27MW off Victoria in Australia. Weaver says he believes Oceanlinx could produce dozens of windfarms off the West Country, Scotland and eastern England. (thisismoney)

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