The Wave Hub marine energy project is on course to be deployed this summer with fabrication of sub-sea cables and the hub itself nearing completion.

Wave Hub will create the world’s largest test site for wave energy technology by building a grid-connected socket on the seabed, 10 miles off the coast of Cornwall, to which wave power devices can be connected and their performance evaluated.

The £42M project has been developed by the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) and is a cornerstone of its strategy to develop a world-class marine energy industry in South West England.

Hartlepool-based JDR Cable Systems is constructing the armoured 25km subsea cable that will connect Wave Hub to the National Grid, and the hub structure that will sit on the seabed. Construction is well advanced on the cable manufacture, and, once complete, the 1,300 tonne cable will be spooled directly onto a cable laying vessel from JDR’s deepwater quayside facility at Hartlepool Dock.

The company is also making four 300-metre ‘tails’ that will connect wave energy devices on or just below the surface of the sea back to Wave Hub.

Work is also well underway on the hub assembly. This is a rigid steel structure that will sit on the seabed in 50m of water and be covered in several metres of rock. It will provide a connection between the main cable from the shore and the tails leading to the wave energy devices, and will weigh around 12 tonnes when completed. A connection block inside will be filled with resin to ensure it remains watertight and the whole structure is designed to last at least 25 years.

“After seven years of planning it’s hugely satisfying to see the cable and hub actually taking shape,” said Guy Lavender, Wave Hub’s general manager at the SWRDA. “We’re on course for deployment this summer and extensive testing will take place before we welcome our first wave energy devices at Wave Hub, which we expect in 2011.

Meanwhile onshore work for Wave Hub continues with the construction of an electricity substation at Hayle on the north Cornwall coast.

The six-month project includes the installation of more than £1M of electrical equipment, including a monitoring system for wave energy developers to measure how much power their devices produce.

It follows the completion in February of the first phase of work to drill a 200m duct through sand dunes at Hayle where Wave Hub’s subsea-cable will come ashore. It will be linked to onshore cabling threaded through the duct and connected to the new sub-station.

Wave Hub is being funded with £12.5M from the SWRDA, £20M from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme and £9.5M from the UK government.

An independent economic impact assessment has calculated that Wave Hub could create 1800 jobs and inject £560Min the UK economy over 25 years.