The world’s first commercial wave power station has successfully fed electricity into the UK’s national grid on the Scottish island of Islay (above). The station has secured a 15-year power purchase agreement with the major public electricity suppliers in Scotland.

Wavegen and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) jointly developed the land installed marine powered energy transformer (LIMPET) with European Union support. LIMPET is rated at 0.5MW and is able to provide enough electricity for about 400 local homes.

Managing director of Wavegen, Allan Thomson, said: ‘This is a big day for us. Wave power has joined the important group of commercially viable, competitive and clean forms of sustainable energy; this is the launch of a new global market.’ QUB installed a small research wave energy station on Islay in 1990. The successful operation of this plant enabled the development of the LIMPET project. ‘It is very satisfying to find 20 years of collaborative academic research being developed commercially,’ Professor Trevor Whittaker of QUB said. ‘LIMPET is an important milestone in the development of this vast ocean resource.’ Philippe Schild, European Commission scientific officer for LIMPET said LIMPET is there to prove that energy can be extracted commercially from the ocean. (See IWP&DC September 1999, pp32-3).