Funding for the project has already been approved, and the consent announcement given yesterday by John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, means that project developers, the South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA), can now move ahead.

Commenting on the announcement, chairman of the South West RDA, Juliet Williams, said: ‘This is a huge step forward for Wave Hub and is a vote of confidence in the RDA’s ability to create a groundbreaking renewable energy project in South West England that will lead the world in the development of wave energy technology.’

The Wave Hub project will include on onshore substation connected to electrical equipment on the seabed about 16km offshore via a sub-sea cable. Companies developing wave energy technology will be able to plug into Wave Hub to test their wave energy devices on a scale never seen anywhere before.

Four companies have already been chosen to use Wave Hub. These are Oceanlinx, Ocean Power Technologies Ltd, Fred Olsen and WestWave, a consortium of E.ON and Ocean Prospect Ltd using the Pelamis technology of ocean-power-delivery.

A new independent economic impact assessment, commissioned by the RDA, has shown that Wave Hub could create 1800 jobs and £560M in the UK economy over 25 years. Almost 1000 of these jobs and £332M would be generated in South West England.

Wave Hub could generate enough electricity for 7500 homes, directly saving 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over 25 years. This would support South West England’s target for generating 15% of the region’s power from renewable sources by 2010.

‘This is a fantastic confidence boost for this emerging industry,’ said Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the BWEA, the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. ‘Wave Hub will be a crucial part of the learning curve for everyone with an interest in wave energy development around the world and will underpin the growing confidence in these exciting technologies. It’s this kind of progress that makes the UK the global hotspot for the expansion of carbon free energy from the sea and we must ensure it remains so.’

The Wave Hub project will cover an area of sea measuring 4km by 2km and each wave device developer will be granted a lease of between five and 10 years in an area of approximately 2km2. The water at the deployment site is approximately 50m deep.

Up to 30 wave energy devices are expected to be deployed at Wave Hub and will float on the surface of the sea. The project is expected to be operational in 2009.

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