UK-based Pelamis Wave Power (PWP) says the development of marine energy has been brought forward with an order for one of the company’s next generation of wave energy devices.

E.On UK, the British arm of the German utility, has placed an order with PWP for a P-2 Pelamis Wave Energy Converter. The order marks the first time that a major utility has ordered a wave energy converter for installation in the UK and will boost PWP’s efforts to commercialise its technology.

The P-2 device will be installed and tested at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, where PWP has been testing and operating a full-scale prototype of its wave energy converter since 2004. The new machine will be 180 m long and includes a number of enhanced design features to improve performance and ease of manufacture.

E.On and PWP expect the 750 kW P-2 device, which is currently being built in Edinburgh, to be fully operational in 2010. The first year of testing will be an extended commissioning period, with the next two years designed to improve the device’s working capabilities.

The project forms part of E.On’s renewable development portfolio in the UK. “It’s only by actually getting devices in the water that we can test the potential for wave power in the UK, which is why this is such an important step,” said Amaan Lafayette, Marine Development Manager at E.On.

“We recognise that much work has to follow before we can be certain that marine energy will fulfil its potential but the success of this device will give us the confidence to move to the next phase of commercialisation which is larger arrays around the UK coastline.”

The P-2 machine will form the basis of PWP’s commercial roll-out over the next few years. “The machine offers major improvements in efficiency, survivability, operability, maintainability and overall cost effectiveness,” said Phil Metcalf, CEO of PWP.

PWP has already been granted consent for the development of a 3 MW wave energy installation at EMEC and a 5 MW facility off the north coast of Cornwall in the UK. Three of the company’s P-1 Pelamis generators are operating off the coast of northern Portugal at the world’s first multi-unit commercial wave farm.