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Wave–tricity launches sea trials

A landmark occasion for Wave–tricity: Sir Steve Redgrave (left) alongside Simon Hart MP, Managing Director Matt Fairclough–Kay and CEO Simon Gillett

A DEVICE which is hoped to harness wave energy in a simple and robust way has undergone its first sea trials at Pembroke Dock.

Wave–tricity officially launched a two–year programme last Thursday (March 9) where it will look to continue its development of a commercially viable, wave energy converter device.

Product Ambassador and five– time Olympic gold medallist, Sir Steve Redgrave , was at the Wave– tricity head office in Pembroke Dock to celebrate the next phase of the project.

Sir Redgrave said: “It’s always interested me, after years and years of applying lots of power into the water and never really getting any benefit other than making a boat go quite quickly over still water […], that it can be turned around, to try and harness the power from the waves, so it’s something that’s close to my heart in some ways.”

While still in its research and development phase, the device, dubbed the ‘Ocean Wave Rower’ was described by Wave–tricity’s Managing Director as ‘simple, robust and versatile’.

A multi–million pound project, Wave–tricity secured £4m in EU funding via the Welsh Government in September last year.

The company is hopeful that their device will help to deliver power to ‘isolated communities, island nations and developing coastal nations’ that struggle to generate energy in a world dominated by high–cost oil and gas infrastructure.

Managing Director Matt Fairclough–Kay said: “Our particular wave energy converter is different to a lot of others that are out there in that we’re not chasing efficiency, what we’re chasing is robustness and reliability.

“We want something that’s easily maintainable, and hence can be used in much greater areas around the world.”

He added that the ‘Ocean Wave Rower’ will go beyond ‘just being a wave energy converter’, but also act as a device ‘that can provide disaster relief and go to the point of need’.

As well as energy, the Rower could also have the ability to provide clean water to disaster struck areas.

Explaining why Wave–tricity opted for Pembroke Dock as their operations base, the Director stated: “First of all, the environment. Milford Haven Waterways is an amazing test environment, because you’ve got very sheltered waters at the landward end and you’ve got very unpleasant waters at the seaward end.

“Alongside that, there’s a good supply chain here; Mainstay Marina Solutions have been very helpful in getting our device to sea up until this point, we’ve got tug companies here, we’ve got a good maritime supply base, like Dale Sailing across the waters, and many other companies.”

He added: “We need to see that sector growth and the cluster of renewable energy companies that are setting up here and causing that diversification, which is really important to the whole maritime sector.”

Also in attendance on Thursday and speaking of the need for renewable energy, Simon Hart MP said: “I think that obviously when everybody thinks of renewable energy, they think of onshore wind, they think of offshore wind, they think of solar, but they’re beginning to, I think, take wave energy as something which isn’t just a vague aspiration but is actually something that hopefully, in the reasonably foreseeable future, we should be able to master.”

With regard to the economic impact of projects such as Wave– tricity on Pembrokeshire, Mr Hart said: “It helps create new jobs, which is really important; obviously jobs in new sort of innovation are always good for the local economy.

“I think the other thing it does, it keeps the skills that we do have, in the area, so if the Milford Haven Waterway, Pembrokeshire, West Wales as a wider area, gets an international reputation as being somewhere at the forefront of renewable energy, that means we will keep a decent, substantial, well–paid skill set in the area.”