Eco Wave Power (EWP) inaugurated its first ever grid-connected wave power station in Gibraltar. This was a big moment for the company with most of its focus on the ammunition jetty of the Gibraltar station. Construction started on the first-phase station at the beginning of the year, with testing taking place up until just a few weeks before the big switch-on.
The company has been tweaking its designs over the years with eight different designs of floaters. The hardware is also well suited to the environment with the jetty at Gibraltar using a pointed design to split the waves and gather power even in good weather. “These floaters were made suitable in terms of the weight and size,” Says company co-founder, Inna Braverman. “When we received the 15 years of wave data from the meteorological office, we saw that the waves here are pretty low. We had to make sure that when the waves are low, we still produce power.”
The buoys at the Gibraltar station rise above the water to avoid taking damage which helps in the country’s generally mild weather. Some other storm protection features have also been installed like the lowering of floats into the water. The Eco Power Station is the first of its kind in the country and only an introduction to the renewable energy systems. There is still much progress to be made and the government’s interest is surely paving the way for future development in the area.
Some changes had to be done to the World War II infrastructure before the buoys could be fixed into place to face the rocks. That decision slightly lowered the energy production but EWP was keen to respect the tranquil environment and provide low-impact energy solutions, even though Gibraltar’s ammunition jetty wasn’t quire the perfect location.
The jetty-based station is currently producing 100KW of energy but the target is to provide the area with 15% of its energy needs by 2020 which amounts to 5MW. The team has six montjs to optimize the existing station before the expansion projects kicks off. That planned increase means putting in a lot more buoys. The new floats won’t sit on the ammunition jetty, but will be placed on a new marina a little north of the current site. That new location will be quite roomy, allowing for the future buoys to be much bigger, and therefore more efficient at harnessing energy.
EWP further plans to take on a new project on the Pacific side of Mexico, with the project currently in planning stage. A number of Environment Impact Assessment Reports have to be submitted and approved before the project can begin. The whole process could take 12-18 months. Once functional, the Mexico station will provide 4.1MW of energy after the phase. Once all phases are complete, it will boast a handsome 25MW of energy to the national grid of Mexico.
The project will rest on coastal pylons instead of existing natural features that will raise the price of the project, but will not affect its cost efficiency. “This does raise the price,” Inna commented. “It raised the price from US$1 million for our equipment, to about $2.4 million with the pylons, but even with that taken into account, the waves are good, and it’s still cost-efficient.”
The Mexican effort is far from the only project on the horizon, with plans to build stations in China, alongside 12.5 MW and 30 MW stations set to crop up in England and Scotland down the line.