Milford Haven Waterway is to become the site of a new tide and wave energy development and engineering hub, thanks to a collaboration between the port of Milford Haven, Marine Energy Wales, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, and Wave Hub.
The development will act as a staging point for new development at a 90 km2 leased site for the commercial deployment of a 100 MW combined wave energy and floating offshore wind array, dubbed the Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone. If it can be harnessed properly, wave energy offers extraordinary potential with 24-hour renewable energy on offer. With a water depth of 50 m, the Pembrokeshire site is calculated to have a potential of 19 kW of wave energy per metre.
Milford Haven plans to accommodate a marine energy hub and centre of excellence, which would extend its findings to elsewhere throughout the British Isles and further afield if wave energy is found to be a commercially viable source of renewable energy.
The Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone will also feature an array of floating wind turbines, which are still relatively scarce on the west coast of the UK mainland, relative to a major presence off the east and north sea-facing coastlines. Pembroke Dock Marine will also comprise new ‘Catapult’ research and innovation facility close to the test site, enabling continuous research and development support for developers of the new energy source. According to Port of Milford Haven, the new development will “expand upon the region’s existing high-skill cluster site, to develop and enhance the existing infrastructure and facilities to ensure this young industry can benefit from maximised operational efficiency and innovation opportunities”.
Areas of the deepwater waterway – referred to as Marine Energy Test Area – will also be allocated, and associated infrastructure assembled, for the in situ testing of tide and wave energy devices and components. “Together these elements will help drive the commercialisation of marine energy technology whether tide, wave, or floating wind enhancing the UK’s current industry proposition,” Milford Haven said.
Marine Energy Wales calculates that the country has some 6.2 GW of wave energy resource available, over a surface area of 1,912 km2. If the Pembroke initiative is successful – as well as operations in another demonstration area in Anglesey, in North Wales – it could open the way for an entirely new type of renewable energy, which would be a huge boon for the underwater construction industry.