New lease of life for Lowestoft wave power machine

A pioneering machine which is being repaired after it overtuned off the coast of Lowestoft twelve months ago will soon be generating important data to show the power of waves.

The 80 tonne demonstration wave power generator, which was made at the Small and Co boatyard in Lowestoft, was due to be set in place for a trial off the coast of Southwold in September last year but it was damaged when the pontoon which was being used to tow it capsized.

Now one year on, engineers are still restoring the machine and getting it ready for testing.

Steve Packard, chairman of London-based company Trident Energy, which created the wave power generator, said: 'The machine was recovered fairly promptly after the capsize, and it took about three weeks to get it back to the port.

'We weren't really able to do very much to repair the damage for several months as a full investigation had to be carried out and that was not concluded until the end of April.

'The machine was then stripped down during the summer and we're now in the process of checking the linear generators, which are the main piece of the unique technology and the pieces which it is most important to have preserved. The capsize was a set back, but we're back on track now and things are going well.'

Mr Packard said that a test bed is being built so the machine can be tested onshore in different wave conditions to find out how it would behave at sea.

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'It is unlikely that we will build another rig because we can get the information and data we need from this test bed without the risk of being out at sea.

'The simplicity of the rig means that it has just one moving part and lends itself to use on so many different structures, including wind farms, redundant rigs or even buoys.

'The aim of this project was to demonstrate the technology and we have a number of partners who are interested in using the technology in their own device. There is a lot of potential for it,' he said.