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Mocean Energy gets £3m EU boost for large new wave energy device

Professional Engineering

The Mocean Energy Blue X wave energy converter. The new device will be 25-times more powerful (Credit: Colin Keldie, Emec)
The Mocean Energy Blue X wave energy converter. The new device will be 25-times more powerful (Credit: Colin Keldie, Emec)

Wave energy developer Mocean Energy has secured over £3m EU funding to develop and deploy a 250kW wave machine, a considerable increase in scale compared to its current 10kW prototype.

The large-scale wave energy device – named Blue Horizon 250 – will be manufactured in Scotland and deployed in a grid-connected berth at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (Emec) Billia Croo test site in Orkney.

Blue Horizon could be deployed as early as 2025, an Emec announcement said. The project partners hope it could pave the way to a small wave farm delivering 1-2MW of low-carbon electricity by 2030.

Mocean is already a key participant in the £2m Renewables for Subsea Power (RSP) programme, which has connected the company’s 10kW Blue X prototype with an underwater battery system developed by Aberdeen intelligent energy management specialists Verlume, which powers an autonomous underwater vehicle.

The wave energy devices harvest energy by flexing around central axes as waves travel along their length. “It’s forced to flex because of the shape of the waves – it dips in the middle when it’s in the trough of a wave, and when it’s at the peak it’s forced to flex the other way,” said Tom Jackson from Mocean to Professional Engineering previously. 

Blue Horizon 250 will be a “significant scale up from Blue X”, Emec said. The new machine is designed for commercial applications on islands and remote communities, as well as off-grid applications such as oil and gas infrastructure, and fish farms.

The new funding is a “major milestone” for Mocean, said co-founder and managing director Cameron McNatt. “We have already demonstrated our technology successfully at small scale, and this programme will allow us to build a significantly larger machine based on our proven hinged raft design, and incorporate our novel direct drive generator,” he said.

“Looking further ahead, our goal is to deliver a small array in UK waters this decade, and I am confident that with appropriate innovation funding in place we can realise our ambition to build commercial wave energy arrays and generate home-grown green energy from our seas, both in the UK and around the world.”

The Blue X prototype was built in Scotland, with about 80% of parts coming from the local supply chain. The Blue Horizon should deliver similar levels of local work, Emec said. Mocean has selected Aberdeen firm Texo Engineering and Fabrication as its preferred fabrication, assembly and load-out contractor for its future wave energy convertors.

Neil Kermode, Emec’s managing director, said: “Mocean Energy first came to Orkney in June 2021 with the testing of their Blue X prototype on our scale test site in Scapa Flow for a five-month test campaign, gaining initial operational experience in real-sea conditions.

“We’re delighted to see Mocean secure this funding and continue the next steps in their development journey in Orkney, which will see them deploy at our grid-connected test site at Billia Croo. This perfectly illustrates the importance of facilities and services that enable practical demonstration and allows learning by doing.”

Tim Hurst, managing director of Wave Energy Scotland (WES), said: “With their Blue X prototype deployed in Scapa Flow, Mocean Energy proved their technology had the right cost, performance and reliability to deliver commercial wave energy.

“The RSP project has successfully demonstrated the technology in a specific oil and gas application, and now Phase Three of EuropeWave will demonstrate that the technology can scale up and ultimately be deployed in sufficient numbers to make a significant contribution to our net zero targets.”

Mocean was awarded £3.2m in the most recent phase of EuropeWave, a pre-commercial procurement programme funded through the EU and managed in collaboration with WES, the Basque Energy Agency and Ocean Energy Europe.

Phase Three will involve detailed design, a full-scale build, and 12 months at-sea testing. Areas of focus will include: building a novel power take-off system (PTO), by combining a Vernier Hybrid Machine (VHM) with an associated linkage mechanism; exporting power to the grid to ensure grid compatibility and compliance; and refining costs and the commercial roadmap.

Mocean Energy is one of three wave companies to have been awarded funds in Phase Three, each of which has successfully passed through competitive stage gates in Phases One and Two of the programme.

The other successful companies were Idom Consulting and Ceto Wave Energy Ireland, who will install their devices at the Biscay Marine Energy Platform in northern Spain.

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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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