LIMPET wave power plant on Islay celebrates 10 year anniversary
26 November 2010
It is unique in the industry: Voith Hydro Wavegen's LIMPET - the world's first commercial scale grid connected wave energy plant. Commissioned in November 2000 on the Scottish island of Islay, the LIMPET has been supplying electricity to the grid ever since.

In 10 years, LIMPET has built an unrivalled track record of operation and reliability. According to the company, reliability is the first and most important requirement in convincing clients that technology is ready for commercial deployment.

“Our availability levels now match other, more established renewables, and even traditional power plants", says Matthew Seed, CEO of Voith Hydro Wavegen. “The availability has improved dramatically since the first years of operation, and has been over 90% for the last four years, with 2010 figures running at 98%. The plant has accumulated over 60,000 grid connected generating hours, providing a wealth of data to optimise plant performance, and giving clients enormous confidence in long term reliability.“

While LIMPET has stayed firmly anchored on the Islay coast, the ocean energy market has developed, especially in recent years. Governments in Scotland, Portugal and Spain, to name a few, have put financial and policy support mechanisms in place to encourage commercial deployment of ocean energy technologies. This support is starting to pay dividends, and Voith Hydro Wavegen now has specific projects, or development prospects, in several countries across the globe.

The Basque Energy Board (EVE) has already committed to Voith Hydro Wavegen technology. Voith Hydro Wavegen has supplied the complete power generation package with performance and availability guarantees. EVE's wave power project in Mutriku is due to be commissioned early in 2011, and will be the first grid connected wave energy plant in Spain.

The Siadar Wave Energy Project on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis in Scotland will be another step up for Voith Hydro Wavegen's technology. This 4MW project, developed in collaboration with RWE npower renewables, is the largest consented wave energy project worldwide, and is strongly supported by the Scottish Government through the WATERS funding scheme. During construction the project could provide significant local employment, and benefit regional suppliers. This supply chain will be used repeatedly as the Western Isles provide some of the best wave energy resources in Europe, and further projects have already been identified.

The key to Voith Hydro Wavegen's unrivalled track record is a highly reliable power generation system based on robustness and simplicity. “With no moving parts in the water, and the equipment readily accessible for maintenance, the plant now consistently demonstrates the availability required for large scale deployment," Says Matthew. "In addition, we continue to improve the economics of the technology to make it more attractive for larger scale applications as the market develops."  

Voith Hydro is a Group Division of Voith and - with a workforce of currently almost 4,700 employees and an order intake of almost 1.3 billion Euros in the business year 2008/2009 - belongs to the world-wide leading companies for hydro power equipment.

Voith is a global leader in the paper, energy, mobility and service industries. Founded on 1st January 1867, Voith employs 39,000 people, and has sales of EURO 5.1 billion. Operating from 280 locations worldwide, Voith is one of Europe’s largest family-owned companies.