Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

The Islay wave power station

The prototype wave power station located on the Isle of Islay was commissioned in May 1991. It is of the oscillating water column type driving a 1.2 m diameter Wells turbine direct coupled to a 75 kW wound rotor induction generator. The plant is connected to the main electrical grid on the island which is in turn connected to the Scottish grid.

Although it is the fourth of its generic type to be built in the World to date, there has been very little cross fertilization of technological detail between the teams. This has resulted in a relatively slow rate of development with similar mistakes being made by each group. One of the most common problems has been the over estimation of the rating of the generation plant and a poor appreciation of the air flow regime which the turbine has to accommodate. This is particularly important in the design of the Wells turbine as the incidence angle of the air hitting the blades must be kept within a 15 degree bandwidth to avoid stall and maintain performance.

Most of the turbines were designed on the basis of sinusoidal air flow but in practice the situation in the Islay prototype is very different. As a consequence, the turbine on the Islay plant returns an average aerodynamic efficiency of power conversion of around 50% instead of the predicted figure of 70%. The shortfall in performance is not considered to be the result of any deficiency in the fundamental principle of operation of the turbine but can be attributed to insufficient attention to engineering detail. As the primary function of the plant is as a marine test bed, these problems are being addressed and a better understanding of the operation of the turbine is being gained continually.

Reported by

Queen's University of Belfast
BT7 1NN Belfast
United Kingdom
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