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‘World’s largest capacity floating wave energy device’ to be tested in Orkney

Professional Engineering

The OceanEnergy OE35 floating wave energy device (Credit: OceanEnergy)
The OceanEnergy OE35 floating wave energy device (Credit: OceanEnergy)

A €19.6m project aims to design and test the ‘world’s largest capacity floating wave energy device’.

Using waves to drive trapped air through a turbine, the OE35 device was developed by Irish company OceanEnergy. The firm will now work with 13 other partners from industry and academia across the UK, Ireland, France, Germany and Spain to design a 1MW-rated OE35, up from the 500kW current version.

Known as Wedusea (Wave Energy Demonstration at Utility Scale to Enable Arrays), the partnership is being launched this week at the International Conference on Ocean Energy in San Sebastian, Spain.

Floating on the ocean’s surface, the OE35 incorporates a trapped air volume, with the lower part open to the sea. Wave pressures at the submerged opening cause the water to oscillate and drive the trapped air through a turbine to generate electricity. This energy can be exported to the grid or used in other offshore applications.

The first phase of the four-year project will focus on the design of a 1MW device. Innovations will focus on hull and turbine design, air flow control, power systems and moorings to increase reliability and power output.

That phase will be followed by a two-year grid-connected demonstration at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (Emec) Billia Croo wave energy test site in Orkney, Scotland.

The project aims to decrease the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and create a technology deployment pathway for a 20MW pilot farm. The project will also explore a lifecycle analysis, looking at the circular economy and opportunities for reuse and recycling of components at the end of a device’s deployment.

“This rigorous technical and environmental demonstration will happen over a two-year period in Atlantic wave conditions,” said Professor Tony Lewis, chief technical officer at OceanEnergy. “We believe this will be transformational for the wave energy industry, with outcomes directly impacting policy, technical standards, public perception and investor confidence.

“Wave energy is the world’s most valuable and persistent renewable resource. However, it has yet to be fully realised. The project will demonstrate that wave technology is on a cost reduction trajectory, and will thus be a stepping stone to larger commercial array scale-up and further industrialisation. We predict that the natural energy of the world’s oceans will one day supply much of the grid.”

The project is funded by the EU Horizon Europe Programme and by Innovate UK.

“We are expecting Wedusea to take wave energy beyond the state of the art by the collaboration of partners with a multi-disciplinary background, and that it will contribute to the deployment of arrays of reliable wave energy devices to achieve the 1GW target for 2030, as presented in our Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy,” said Matthijs Soede from the European Commission.

“The current energy crisis shows that the use of multiple energy sources is important to improve the security of supply, and a breakthrough in ocean energy would be welcome.”

Myles Heward, project manager at Emec, said: “Emec will provide metocean, bathymetry and geophysical data to feed into the design criteria for the device and facilitate planning of offshore operations.

“The deployment at Emec’s Billia Croo test site will enable collection of valuable data on performance and environmental impact. This will include a series of field campaigns spanning underwater and airborne acoustics, biophysical assessment of wave dynamics, fish aggregation and seabird analysis, to assess the connection between local species and technology operation. This data will build on existing environmental studies to provide regulators with improved understanding and reduced uncertainty around environmental impacts of wave energy.”

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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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