A GREEN energy scheme drawing on the power of the sea could be sited on Portland. The inventor behind the Searaser wave energy project believes the island could prove to be the ideal base for his scheme.

Searaser involves a series of submerged pumps resembling yellow buoys piping water ashore and then running though a hydro turbine uphill to a reservoir to generate electricity on demand.

Following successful trials of a prototype in south Devon, inventor Alvin Smith has been looking for a backer to put the scheme into practice.

There has been interest from abroad but Mr Smith said ideally he would like to launch Searaser as a commercial enterprise in the UK.

He believes the scheme can gain popular support because it is not visually intrusive and is a clean renewable energy system not generating noise or emissions.

Mr Smith’s interest in Portland comes after Weymouth.gov.uk" target="_blank">Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s planning committee turned down a £35million energy plant on the island.

It is anticipated the developer, W4B Renewable Energy Limited, will appeal against the decision.

No one was available at the port to comment on Mr Smith’s project.

Mr Smith intends to discuss his plans with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

If planning approval and funding is secured a 12-month trial would be conducted, costing about £300,000, to evaluate the sea area.

If this is successful it is envisaged siting up to 50 pumps in an area around 1km square, ideally in the south west approaches to Portland. This amount of pumps would generate 20 MW of electric power, enough to power the majority of the homes on the island.

Start-up costs for three pumps and a turbine would be around £1.3million. Costs for subsequent pumps are expected to come down over time as the system pays for itself. It is anticipated a renewable energy company would fund the project.

Mr Smith is coming to Portland next month in order to gauge interest at a public meeting.

He stressed he would withdraw his interest if the general consensus was against the scheme.

Dartmouth-based Mr Smith, 63, is a mechanical engineer by trade whose idea was patented last year.

Borough council environment spokesman and county councillor for Portland Harbour Tim Munro said: “Wave power is seen to be the obvious solution in strong tidal areas and this sounds like an exciting idea for Portland.

“The question is where is the money going to come from to fund it.”

A public meeting on Portland is being organised by the Weymouth and Portland Transition Towns group, which is keen to promote forms of renewable energy, at 7.30pm on Thursday October 29 in the Anita Thorne Hall, Community 2000, Straits, Easton.

Group secretary David Smith said he was impressed by Searaser because of the way maintenance problems are minimised and because it does not seem to be a navigational hazard.