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Gavin Morgan

29 September, 2008

A SHETLAND workboat company is playing a vital role in creating the world’s first wave power farm in Portugal.

Lerwick-based Delta Marine has two boats working out of Agucadoura, on the Portuguese coast, helping the company Pelamis Wave Power site three wave machines that have just gone active.

The machines, situated five kilometres out to sea, send enough power to the Portuguese grid to run 1,500 homes.

Delta Marine started working with Pelamis in 2006 and began operations in Portugal last year. With 25 more machines on order they expect to be out there for some time.

The workboats deploy the massive metal snake-like units, taking them out to sea for mooring or returning them to sheltered water for modification.

The machines are designed so they can be remotely connected and disconnected from Delta Marine’s two workboats Voe Viking and Voe Venture. Previously, Pelamis were using much larger anchor handling boats.

A Delta Marine spokesman said: “We got the boats specially adapted for working with renewables and this has paid off as we are now doing the installation for this Pelamis project.”

Pelamis, the ancient word for sea snake, successfully tested the machines in Orkney, before getting the project online in Portugal, which was delayed by a year.

A specially designed “underwater plug” 15 to 20 metres below the surface, which tethers each unit to the sea bed, would not float properly as the foam keeping it buoyant could not stand the extra water pressure.

The problem was quickly identified and new floats with different foam were developed, but it took time for a “weather window” to allow the plugs to be fixed.

Max Carcas, of Pelamis, said the delay was unfortunate and expensive, but working with the Shetland company had been a positive experience and the project has strong links with the isles.

“We have had a very good working relationship with Delta Marine. We have been using them for quite some time, probably longer than we would have liked from the point of view of project costs, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

“They have certainly been great people to work with and there is a strong Shetland link with this project. The Shetland flag flies proudly on one machine and can be seen from the port,” he said

Most recent update - Monday, 02 March 2009 21:36
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