What is the strange craft moored in the Penryn River? A question I have been asked countless times in recent days, writes David Barnicoat.

Moored fore and aft to buoys, the “strange craft” is in fact a ¼ scale futuristic wave energy converter called WaveSub, which has been undergoing exhaustive trials and tests in Falmouth Bay at the FabTest area by south Wales Company Marine Power Systems based in Swansea

The full-scale structure at 100 metres, 5-megawatt WaveSub will power 5,000 homes.

Scaled up, extensive modelling shows that 100 WaveSub devices would provide a power output of 500MW, equivalent to 500,000 homes.

Designed to operate around 10km from shore, the WaveSub wave energy generator the whole structure sinks beneath the waves where it harnesses the continual orbital motion of waves under the surface of the sea. An undersea cable then runs to the shore to be connected into the National Grid.

FaBTest is an award-winning, pre-consented, 2.8km2 test area situated between three and five kilometres offshore in Falmouth Bay. This nursery facility enables device developers to test components, concepts or full-scale devices in a moderate wave climate, whist giving excellent accessibility to the device and benefitting from extensive nearby port infrastructure.

FaBTest’s pre-consented status, which allows for up to three devices to be deployed concurrently, aims to provide a fast, flexible low risk and low cost solution for the testing of marine energy technologies, components, moorings and deployment procedures. The site offers water depths of 20m-50m and seabed types of rock, gravel and sand.

The site is leased from The Crown Estate and has a Marine Consent for testing, subject to permits issued by Falmouth Harbour Commissioners. Operational support of the site, as well as on-going monitoring and world leading research is provided by the Renewable Energy Group from the University of Exeter, based on the nearby Penryn campus, made possible in part thanks to an investment of Regional Growth Fund money

Dr Gareth Stockman, CEO of Marine Power Systems commented: “The UK’s wave sector is currently world leading. With 35% of Europe’s wave resource lying here on our coastlines, we’re well placed to keep hold of this title. MPS believe that with continued support and investment, wave energy can grow to become a new source of low carbon power as well as being a significant contributor to the UK’s fast-growing renewables economy.

Interesting video clip at https://www.facebook.com/wavesub/videos/1472010856212014/