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    Wednesday, October 08, 2008


    The exciting news first.

    The Agucadoura I project, 3 Pelamis wave energy generators 3 miles off the Portuguese coast, is the first utility scale wave energy project in the world to actually go to work. It was launched, with the ceremonial planting of a Portuguese flag on one of the generators, September 23.

    Manuel Pinho, Economy Minister, Portugal: “The future of wave energy starts today...Finland is very good in mobile phones, Portugal wants to be good in renewable energy. We are among the top five in the world, and we are just in the beginning of the process...Renewable energy is the source of energy for the future and we think this can create an industrial revolution and a lot of opportunities for jobs and research and we want to be ahead of the curve.”

    Agucadoura I’s joint venture owner-operators hope it is the first in a “cluster’ of wave energy installations. Agucadoura II is already being planned. It will be 8 times as big (25 generators) and bring Portugal’s wave energy capacity to 25 megawatts.

    Portuguese leaders hope this is the basis for their very own New Energy industry that will bring the country revenues and jobs.

    Crucial to the project’s financing: Portugal’s long-term feed-in tariff to New Energy producers, E0.23/kW-h generated.

    An authoritative assessment from Oil Drum’s Luis de Sousa is the discouraging news that must follow the excitement.

    de Sousa: “…it is not a stretch to conclude that the financial return on investment (ROI) is close to 1:1. Where that leaves EROEI [Energy Returned On Energy Invested] is not easy to envision, but it might not be that far off… This could be a scalability problem, being the Aguçadoura I [is] just a mini-farm, taking much of the burden of first time tuning to the site…The problem (as I stated in 2006) is that while a MW of installed Wind capacity costs about 0,4 million €, Pelamis is costing in the order of 4 million € per installed MW. There is a steep development curve ahead before competitiveness…”

    de Sousa doesn’t find the potential for wave energy, at least generated with Pelamis devices, to pay off in revenues or energy returned: “Even if Pelamis manages to deal with low EROEI, this technology will likely stay in small market niches [where] Wind power doesn't reach, either be it due to visual impact, water depths or implantation difficulties…”

    He suggests the technology might be efficient as a compliment to offshore wind, offering the opportunity to syngergistically exploit 2 forms of energy generation for the price of 1 ½, “…using the space between windmills and taking advantage of the already existent electric connection to shore…”

    The folks at
    the Oil Drum usually get these calculations right.

    Pelamis. From thefuturehasarrived via YouTube.

    World’s first wave farm opens in Portugal
    02 October 2008 (Euro Weekly)
    The First Wave Energy farm of the World…It’s About Time…
    Luis de Sousa, October 2, 2008 (The Oil Drum: Europe)

    Manuel Pinho, Economy Minister, Portugal; Babcock and Brown (Antonino Lo Bianco, European Head of Infrastructure); Energias de Portugal (EDP); Efacec; Pelamis Wave Power (Phil Metcalf, CEO)

    Agucadoura I, the world’s first actively-producing, commercial-scale wave energy project.

    The Pelamis wave energy device. (photo by Joao Abreu Miranda. click to enlarge)

    - Official inauguration: September 23, 2008.
    - 2 ½ years behind schedule due to bureaucratic delays and early equipment failures.
    - Anticipated life of each generator: 15 years.
    - Estimated pay off period: 12 years.

    - Agucadoura, 3 miles off the Portuguese coast.
    - Pelamis is based in Scotland.
    - Babcock and Brown is a multinational corporation from Australia.
    - EDP is a Portugues utility and energy company.
    - Efacec is a Portuguese transformer manufacturer.

    - The inauguration of the wave energy installation included the raising of the Portuguese flag on one of the Pelamis generators.
    - The project is a joint venture, 77%-owned by promoters Babcock and Brown (46.2%), Energias de Portugal (EDP) (15.4%) and Efacec (15.4%) and 23%-owned by developer Pelamis Wave Power.
    - Agucadoura I is the first of a series of wave energy projects planned by the joint venture.
    - 1st phase: 3 Pelamis generators connected to underwater cables, moored to the sea floor. Cost: ~E9 million
    - 2nd phase: 25 Pelamis generators bringing capacity to 21 megawatts. Total cost: E70 million. (serving 15,000 Portuguese households, displacing 60,000+ tones CO2e/year)
    - Total revenue is estimated at revenue of E5.8 million/year, allowing break even in12 years.

    click to enlarge

    - Antonino Lo Bianco, European Head of Infrastructure, Babcock and Brown: “I am very pleased to be announcing the start of this milestone project today. Wave power offers huge potential, not just for Portugal but for many countries around the world where the harnessing of an inexhaustible supply of wave-energy will produce a clean, zero-carbon energy domestically. We expect wave-power to become a widespread renewable energy technology and look forward to the benefits that investing at this early stage will bring.”
    - Phil Metcalf, CEO, Pelamis Wave Power: “We see this project as an important strategic step to underpin continued commercial growth and technological development. We can certainly predict that Portugal will benefit substantially from taking this visionary lead in developing its wave-energy resources.”


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