Iberdrola Renewables has started testing a pilot wave energy plant that will become the first of its kind to be installed in Europe.

The renewable energy unit of the Spanish utility says it has begun on-shore testing of the internal components of the first buoy, which it hopes to deploy in the sea in the first half of the year. The company is also developing a similar project in Scotland.

The tests consist of component inspection, evaluation of the individual system functions and a final resistance test, in which the units are interconnected and put through their paces in simulated real operating conditions. Iberdrola is aiming to conclude the tests in March 2008 and then install the buoy at sea.

The installation will be located 4 km from the coast of SantoƱa and will consist of ten Power Take Off (PTO) buoys. Iberdrola will initially install just one 40 kW buoy, anchoring it to the seabed 50 m below sea level.

The remaining nine buoys will be installed at a later date and will each have a capacity of 125 kW.

Iberdrola Renewables, which has an installed capacity of 7700 MW, is also developing a wave energy plant off the Orkney Islands in Scotland. At 3 MW, this plant will be the largest in the world and consist of four floating Pelamis generators.