Tank makes waves in Cantabria

The impressive sight of the recently built Great Tank of Maritime and Coastal Engineering is capturing the imagination of those who visit it and work at it.

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Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.

Designed to simulate wave conditions using any type of stream or wind, including at different depths, the Tank is on its way to becoming a reference centre for maritime and coastal engineering and a source of vital research results of environmental and socio-economic interest.

A hub of research and innovation

The Great Tank is located in the Institute of Environmental Hydraulics in Cantabria (IH Cantabria) and forms part of PCTCAN (Science and Technology Park in Cantabria). PCTCAN’s total area of 22 000 square metres is devoted to research and technology development focused on the integral cycle of water and its associated systems. Companies and both national and international governments in this sector will be its potential users. 

Unique facility stands out 

The Tank’s infrastructure is centred around three systems: an experimental management system; a physical simulation system; and a numerical simulation system. The facility is unique in Spain and one of only a few worldwide. It can carry out tests both off-shore (to depths of 1 000 metres) and in coastal areas. In Spain, Europe, Japan and North America, there are several complimentary and/or similar facilities, however none covers the entire range of testing possibilities. The enormous size of the Tank (44m x 30m x10m) means that it can simulate diverse types of wave conditions. One innovative aspect is that for the first time, users will be able to model and reproduce their experiments online using a numerical application mirrored and developed by IH Cantabria.

Spill-over benefits for the region

Up to 200 researchers are expected to play a vital role in turning Cantabria into a pole of international excellence in maritime and coastal engineering research with spill-over effects benefitting local small and medium-sized enterprises. The project has attracted a lot of interest from political circles and experts in the field who recognise the potential of the Tank for advancing research and providing opportunities for the development of renewable energy sources. According to Ms Cristina Garmendia, Spanish Minister for Science and Innovation: "This is an open centre from which the whole country will benefit”; later adding: "This is proof that Cantabria can be at the forefront of science in Spain and Europe".


Draft date

22/08/2011