Sunday, 17 February 2013

My email to Vince Cable pleading that his department take action over Wave Hub. Copied to Andrew George and George Eustice.

Dear sirs,

I am writing to you to plead for action over Wave Hub and to question why it has taken so long for anything to actually happen with the project. Cornwall has been at the forefront of industrial development over the centuries and we take pride in our excellence in engineering and innovation. As such the Wavehub project off the coast of Hayle was widely welcomed here in West Cornwall. In the past we were at the cutting edge of the last industrial revolution and everyone welcomed the idea we'd be again at the cutting energy of another revolution this time in renewable energy. However unlike Cornwall in the industrial revolution, Wavehub has stalled. 

Over a year ago (22/12/2011) the ownership and management of Wavehub was centralised to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The press releases and headlines proudly proclaimed that the 'Future of Wavehub was Secured'. Considering Wavehub itself was ready and awaiting users over a year before that, many people in Cornwall are questioning what exactly is the future of Wave Hub, what exactly have we secured? If you're unaware of what Wavehub exactly is, it is a pioneering test project for wave and tidal energy projects to trial new technologies. Elsewhere wave and tidal energy is already being harnessed, technologies have moved from the developmental stage to the operational stage. With this in mind it is lamentable that the Wavehub project has seen little actual progress in finding users. 

I do welcome some progress with the Irish firm Ocean Energy Limited engaging with the project later this year. It is good news, but even when they are using Wavehub they will only use one of the four berths and only 1 megawatt of the 20 megawatt potential. I urge that there is some concerted action to utilitise the potential of this multi-million pound technology, not only for the sake of itself but also for the local area. People were struggling to get decent jobs here before the economic downturn and the onset of austerity, now it is worse. With this in mind it is disappointing that this huge investment has not yielded any substantial amount of long term jobs.  Finding users for Wavehub would provide jobs for people in West Cornwall and it would also provide a great example of how Cornwall is at the forefront of green energy, provide optimism for both this growing sector and the Cornish economy generally. 

So I ask of you, can you provide me (and the people of Cornwall) an update on progress with this project? 

Can you provide justification that having the management of Wave Hub centralised in London, is to the benefit of the project and the taxpayer?

Whether the department has considered grants or funding to assist other users getting hooked up to Wavehub?

Yours faithfully,

Robert Simmons


  1. Keep me in touch with the response please

    1. Nothing as of yet, I'll blog with any replies I get. Is that ok for you or would you prefer me to email you?

    2. email is fine: Thanks

  2. Hello Robert

    Some really interesting points raised in the broadcast on BBC Radio Cornwall.It is understood that Scotland has published several road maps for the development of marine energy. It plans to spend £24 billion to generate 1000MW by 2020 with an estimated 5000 directly related jobs. France with an estimated 3GW potential (compared to 9GW in the UK) aims to produce 800MW from waves and currents and 6000MW from offshore wind by 2020. A plan produced by the Regional Government for Brittany estimates a potential for 10,000 new jobs directly related to this industry by 2020.Schemes in both Scotland and France are reported as putting power into their respective grids,with the EDF site having started in 2013 and increasing to a full 2MW by 2014. Do we have a budget for Wave Hub and estimates for future employment? Whilst the environment must be challenging,a better description of Wave Hub than that given in the broadcast, might be as part of a developing industry, given that the River Rance tidal power station has had a 240MW capacity generating 500GW per year since 1977. The Irish company Open Hydro is reported as having a substantial interest in Scotland, France, Canada and now Cornwall though it is understood that the French Company DCNS is a majority stockholder. A most interesting project which you might be able to revisit in six months or so. Thank you! Amezeg

    1. Hi Amezeg,
      Thanks for this detailed response, its really good to put these matters into an international context. To think about the possibilities we have right here in Cornwall. After all the possibilities for wave and tidal generation are huge with our massive coastline and our sea which today it can't be ignored that it has a huge force behind it and lots of energy waiting to be harnessed. I haven't seen a forecast for the potential of offshore power in Cornwall, not for jobs or potential energy creation. The same is true of Wavehub, for a £42 million project there is a distinct lack of strategy. This I believe is a lot to do with how the project is run, central govt in London is in charge of the project and they have a small office in Hayle. I've heard since that the BIS in London is keen to point out that the failures of Wave Hub lay squarely at the feet of the project manager. Which I find hard to believe and question whether after two years of inaction that she is getting the support, help and funding necessary to make this a success.
      Thanks for the comment.

  3. Myttin da! Rob
    An initiative by the Assembly for Wales has developed a Tidal Power Generator (1.2MW) thanks to funding from the EU of £6.4 million and other sources such as the majority shareholder, the company Eco L.
    "The project will provide a significant number of green jobs".
    The Assembly for Wales has several other projects at the planning stage.
    Oll an gwella.


    1. Dohajydh da! Rob

      Rod Toms has written an interesting and very comprehensive article on the MK site, covering the development and present position of tide and wave power in Cornwall. He has also suggested some practical ways in which marine generated power can be used to the greatest local benefit.

      It is hoped that you will receive a prompt, constructive and
      helpful reply to your request for extra funding.If that is not the case, then a plan B can be helpful, though this is rightly a matter to be decided locally.

      In an attempt to add constructive comment, have you considered something like the Merific Project? "The Marine Energy in Far Peripheral and Island Communities" is a joint enterprise between finistere and Cornwall and part of the
      European INTERRES IV project to "strengthen regional competiveness" which was funded with €4 million in May 2011.

      Funding might be or become available to take this a stage further ie into production. Why not talk to the Project Manager Nicolas Wallet.

      Marine generated electricity could, given adequate investment, provide a substantial proportion of the domestic and industrial needs of Cornwall. Given success, you might even be able to export power through undersea connectors to other national grids.

      Very best wishes for the successful outcome to your request and apologies for my strictly limited abilities in kernewek.

      Du genes.

  4. Please update me when you get a reply as well

    David Thorpe, News editor