One of the world’s largest wave power stations is to be constructed off the Isle of Lewis in Scotland after the Scottish government granted consent to the Siadar project.

The 4 MW scheme is to be developed by npower renewables, the UK subsidiary of RWE Innogy and Wavegen, a subsidiary of Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation, who say that the project will serve as a reference for the development of other commercial wave power stations around the world.

The project will use Wavegen’s oscillating water column technology to harness power from the Altantic waves. Construction could begin this year and would take around 18 months.

“Today’s announcement is a significant step in Scotland’s journey to become a world leader in renewables,” said Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond. “The Siadar wave farm will be one of the largest consented wave electricity generating stations in the world. It is the first commercial wave farm in Scotland and is starting with a capacity to power around 1800 homes.”

The Siadar project will consist of 40 of Wavegen’s Limpet turbines encased within a concrete breakwater structure. Wavegen has been testing the technology at a prototype installation on Islay in Scotland since 2000.

“Wavegen’s proven technology will now be employed at full commercial scale, paving the way for real cost efficiencies which will bring the cost of wave energy closer to that of more established technologies,” said Matthew Seed, CEO of Wavegen.

Siadar could also be one of the first projects to operate under the Scottish government’s proposed multiple Renewable Obligation Certificates scheme, which is designed to support the development of marine renewable energy generation.

“This is proof of Scotland’s unique opportunities in renewables and evidence that we are already on the way to seizing every opportunity to maximise our natural resources and capability to generate clean, green energy,” said Salmond.

Scottish government targets are to meet 50 per cent of electricity demand from renewables by 2020, with an interim target of 31 per cent by 2011.