Wave energy technology projects awarded £2.84m
Four wave energy technology developers are to be awarded a total of £2.84 million by Wave Energy Scotland (WES) after successfully competing to join stage two of an innovative technology development programme.
The funding will support further design, modelling and testing of technologies being developed through WES’s Novel Wave Energy Converter (NWEC) programme, one of a series of programmes designed to help commercialise the wave energy sector in Scotland.
WES selected the four projects as the most promising of eight applications from contractors in stage one of its NWEC programme, which focuses on solutions to capture wave movement. They will now progress to stage two of the programme which is expected to run until autumn 2018. Once this stage concludes, the project teams can apply for stage three funding to develop a scaled prototype device for real sea testing at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.
WES, a subsidiary of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and funded by the Scottish Government, will support all projects that successfully pass through competitive stage gate reviews during the programme.
This latest announcement from WES brings the total investment by the organisation in wave energy technology development to £24.6 million across 56 projects in just over two years.
Tim Hurst, WES managing director, said: “Our competitive technology development process aims to bring forward projects that will promote greater confidence in the technical performance of wave energy systems. This, of course, calls for very rigorous assessment and some difficult decisions about investment. I am pleased to confirm our further support for these four projects through to the next stage of development and very much look forward to seeing how the project teams might further develop their wave energy converter designs.”
Project selection – Eight projects took part in stage one of the NWEC programme. All applied for stage two and from these, four were selected. Selection was on the basis of an assessment of their proposed technical approach and impact, the scope of the work, project management approach, and value for money. WES’s recommendations were then endorsed by its Advisory Group and supported by HIE’s Board. Each successful application will be awarded up to 100 per cent of the costs for developing their technology project, with each contract worth around £700,000.
The four successful projects progressing to stage two of the NWEC programme, in no order of priority, are:
Lead Company: 4c Engineering
Project title: ACER2
Project award: £659,515.80
The Sea Power Platform is a low draft, low profile floating device which captures wave energy through relative motion of two hinged structures. The floating structures respond in heave and pitch to the oncoming waves and are configured to react against each other. Power is taken off at the hinged connection of the two structures. The device is slack-moored to the seabed using three or four mooring lines, depending on the size of device and the site.
In order to capture the maximum available energy, the Sea Power Platform is deployed in deep water, typically 10km or more off shore and therefore these devices will not be visible from land. Work carried out under the NWEC1 program has shown that wave farms consisting of these devices show very good potential to provide commercially viable grid-connected renewable energy. Recent work carried out by the company at the SmartBay test site in Galway demonstrated the ease with which the device can be installed and operated in a near real-sea off-shore environment.
Building on the knowledge gained through the Stage 1 ACER project, the Stage 2 project will continue to develop the Sea Power Platform via the following activities:
- Simulation and wave tank test programmes to investigate and optimise the device geometry and PTO damping strategy for best power capture at a given site;
- Load testing in extreme waves to provide inputs to engineering of partial-scale and full-scale designs;
- Concept engineering of full-scale wave energy convertor system, identifying solutions for all subsystems;
- Front end engineering design of a large-scale test device, to be deployed and tested at a nursery site.
- Development of operations and maintenance strategies for array of full-scale devices.
Lead Company: AWS Ocean Energy Ltd
Project title: Improved Archimedes Waveswing™
Project award: £721,265
This project will investigate potential for significant improvements to the economic performance of the Archimedes Waveswing™ WEC following recent innovations and developments. The original Waveswing concept was tested and demonstrated at large scale offshore Portugal in 2004. However, despite significant research and development effort, the configuration was found not to provide an economic solution to offshore wave power generation at that time.
Recent work by AWS Ocean Energy has improved the fundamental understanding of the device and as a result has identified new configurations for the concept which will provide a very significant improvement to the cost of energy whilst reducing technical risk. This project will investigate the effects of the technology advances and in particular confirm the potential for projected performance improvement and cost reduction, thus setting a solid foundation for a renewed development programme for the Waveswing™ technology.
Lead Company: Checkmate Seaenergy Ltd
Project title: Anaconda Novel Wave Energy Converter Stage 2
Project award: £727,135
Anaconda is a novel wave energy device comprising a rubber bulge tube and power take-off (PTO).
The WES Stage 2 project will build on the results achieved during Stage 1 with an engineering work programme focused on a lower risk ‘Mk1’ baseline configuration and concepts for a more advanced ‘MkX’ version. The Mk1 design is intended for the first array-series Anaconda WECs. The MkX will include further step change technologies offering improved economic potential in the longer term. This Stage 2 programme balances the near-term risks with the longer term potential for the technology.
The engineering programme will focus on advancing the Mk1 for sub-scale sea prototype deployment in Stage 3 and in particular the technology readiness of the fundamental tube absorber technology. This work will progress the lower novelty Mk1 baseline device successfully developed in Stage 1. It will include detailed structural design assessments, subsystem engineering and an assessment of hysteresis impacts of using rubber. It will also cover further design work on local structural details to assess their resilience in fatigue and ultimate loading conditions. The programme will produce a feasibility assessment of a full-scale device and a FEED of rubber structures for sub-scale Stage 3 sea trials. A large-scale rubber manufacturer, Contitech, with an interest in providing components for future stages will join the team.
The simulation and testing programme will focus on acquiring loads information to guide the design of the full scale and sub-scale sea-going prototypes, as well as addressing the remaining uncertainty in the Mk1 absorber tube performance estimates. It also includes study and validation of an entirely new experimental PTO with fast, active control of the bulge tube interface. This work will help to understand the ultimate absorption potential of Anaconda. It will validate a numerical model of the Anaconda such that performance optimisation will no longer depend only on experimentally measured results. The advanced engineering work on MkX will probably also find application on determining desirable design features for the more passively controlled Mk1 PTO system.
It is anticipated that these work streams in combination will provide sufficient and specific confidence in the Anaconda Mk1 technology by close of Stage 2 to allow WES to invest in a Stage 3 programme that includes a sub-scale prototype.
Lead Company: Mocean Energy Ltd
Project title: Mocean WEC: Next-Level Hydrodynamics and Engineering
Project award: £729,948
The Mocean WEC is a hinged raft with a rotational power take-off (PTO). The design innovation is in the geometry of the two hulls:
- submerged nose and tail
- cross-coupling between modes of motion
- higher excitation force
- good survivability
- more power per size
Because the two hulls of the machine react against each other – rather than the sea-bed – the residual mooring forces are low and can be accommodated by a relatively low-cost single-point mooring that allows the machine to yaw, like a weather vane, so it naturally faces the direction from which most wave energy arrives.
In WES NWEC Stage 2 Mocean Energy will further develop the performance and engineering of the Mocean WEC. The latest advances and discoveries of the numerical and experimental programme will inform changes to the machine shape and size to increase the power it produces per tonne of displacement. An intensive effort will also be focused on engineering the physical structure of the machine and the PTO. In respect of the mass of material used – and therefore cost – the PTO must efficiently convert the mechanical power of the waves into electrical power; likewise the structure needs to be strong and resistant to fatigue.
The machine has a conceptually simple electro-mechanical power train comprising a magnetic gear coupled to a permanent magnet generator (PMG), with computer-controlled power electronics and energy storage. At the input, the PTO controls the resistance the machine presents to the wave-induced motion, and therefore its dynamic response. At the output, the PTO controls the quantity and quality of electrical power produced by the PMG. By the end of the project, these critical engineering features will have been thoroughly explored and crystallised into a full-scale concept suitable for a wave farm power plant, and a large-scale model prototype design ready for manufacture and trials at sea.