Harnessing the power of the sea, world’s first operational breakwater wave energy plant

Basque Coast Mutriku

In the town of Mutriku is Europe’s first breakwater wave energy plant that harnesses the ferocious force of the oceans tidal and wave power to deliver clean, renewable energy. The plant opened in 2011 and can generate an output of about 300kW. This is enough to power 250 households and the ability to reduce 600 tons of carbon emissions annually. It is an impressive display of master engineering using an oscillating water column (OWC) technology and it is connected directly to the energy grid.

Mutriku harbor located along the rough coastline commissioned the breakwater in 2006 to protect its port from the rough seas, as part of the construction they incorporated innovative renewable energy technology that was compatible with existing or new breakwater structures. The dual concept enabled the existing marine infrastructure to be used to protect the harbor and also generate power. The OWC was built along a section of the breakwater facility's outer wall.

One hundred meters long and powered by 16 turbines, wave energy is extracted when pressure from waves is exerted on air columns in the sea wall. The plant has 16 air chambers within the sea wall, when a wave arrives it pushes air up into the chamber driving the turbines. When the wave retreats, the air is sucked out through the turbine, causing the turbine to turn again in the same direction. The turbines then move a series of generators to produce electricity. Seawater never comes into contact with the electro-mechanical elements of the machine prolonging the life of the plant and reducing maintenance costs.

A visit to Mutriku can include a tour to this innovative facility to learn about how the ocean is being used as a renewable energy source and the great potential for wind and tidal power to contribute to a more efficient use of natural resources. 

Read more about The Anchovy Route.

Details & Reservation

Length: 1h -30min
Minimum Recommended: 2 People
Languages: English, Spanish, Basque, German
Transportation: Could be arranged

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