Wave energy technology projects awarded £2M

Four wave energy developers are to be awarded a total of £2 million by Wave Energy Scotland (WES) after successfully competing to progress to stage two of the technology development programme.

The funding will support further design, modelling and testing of technologies being developed to help commercialise the wave energy sector in Scotland.

WES selected the projects as the most promising of eight applications from contractors in stage one of its Power Take Off (PTO) programme, which focuses on solutions to convert the movement of Wave Energy Converters (WECs) to electricity. The winning projects will now progress to stage two of the programme, which they are expected to complete in the next year.

WES, a subsidiary of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and funded by the Scottish Government, will support the projects that successfully pass through competitive stage gate reviews during the programme. At the end of stage two, project teams will have the opportunity to apply for stage three in the PTO programme.

This latest announcement from WES brings the total investment by the organisation in wave energy technology development to £11.8 million across 39 projects in less than two years.

Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said:
“The Scottish Government’s sustained funding has allowed Wave Energy Scotland to support companies to develop genuinely novel components for wave energy devices. Wave energy has great potential to contribute to Scotland’s energy supply and that of the UK and EU. If we are able to harness this important energy resource, there are great opportunities to generate exports to the rest of the world.

“Wave Energy Scotland facilitates collaborative working between innovative industries here in Scotland and elsewhere to improve the performance and efficiency of wave energy systems. 
“I congratulate the technology developers that have reached this second stage and look forward to seeing the fruits of their collaboration.”

Tim Hurst, WES managing director, added: “Our competitive technology development process aims to bring forward development 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. Equally it shows the level of innovation and appetite among companies to keep Scotland at the forefront of wave energy development. 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 the results and how they might work with wave energy converter designs.”

Project selection – Ten projects took part in stage one of the PTO programme. Eight of these 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’ recommendations were then endorsed by its Advisory Group and supported by HIE’s Board and Scottish Government. Each successful application will be awarded up to 100 per cent of the costs for developing their technology project, with each contract worth around £490,000.

The four successful projects progressing to stage two of the PTO programme are:

PROJECT: Wave Energy Transmission Module

Lead Partner: Romax Technology Limited (with Sea Power Limited and FloWave TT)
Description: During the Stage 1 project, an investigation was carried out into the feasibility of designing and manufacturing a geared PTO suitable for deployment on a large, deep-water attenuator-type WEC (the SeaPower platform).  Results from Stage 1 indicated significant potential to enhance energy capture by broadening the speed range over which the PTO can capture energy - currently limited by the capability of commercially available power converters. This is the priority for further investigation at Stage 2.

Contract Amount: £496,200

PROJECT: Power Electronic Controlled Magnet Gear (PECMAG)
Lead Partner: Ecosse Sub-sea Systems Ltd, (with Supply Design Ltd and Bathwick Electrical Design Ltd and Pure Marine Gen Ltd)
Description: The PECMAG PTO system is a modular all-electric system with magnetic gearing that is being developed to suit a variety of WEC devices.
The project aims to demonstrate the performance enhancing capability at a ¼ scale in the lab (TRL4), and provide greater insight into the systems potential. Building on a successful Phase 1 feasibility study that highlighted enhanced availability, torque & rated power/£ ratios combined with the inherent efficiency and survivability improvements. System design, modelling and LCOE calculations will be carried out in conjunction with the technology development to provide a robust knowledge pack to support test results.
With low cost linear and rotary PTO system options that offer flexible installation and deployment possibilities, this project aims to bring the technology closer to market and open up dialogue with WEC developers.

Contract Amount: £498,420

PROJECT: Inflatable Dielectric Elastomer Generator – PTO
Lead Partner: Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e di Perfezionamento Sant’Anna (with The University of Edinburgh, Università di Bologna, and Cheros Srl)
Description: The Project aims to further develop a breakthrough technology for the conversion of ocean wave energy into electricity through the use of electrostatic or dielectric elastomer generators (DEGs). These compounds are highly deformable solid-state capacitors that convert the mechanical work required for the deformation into stored electrostatic energy. DEG technology allows the merging of the primary mover and power-take-off (PTO) components of Wave Energy Converters (WECs) into a single deformable body (typically a membrane) with the function of both capturing ocean wave energy and converting it into electricity.

Contract Amount: £498,000

PROJECT: GATOR Stage 2 - a compliant seal free hydraulic PTO
Lead Partner: Exceedence Ltd (with Technology from Ideas Ltd, Pelagic Innovation Ltd, University of Strathclyde and University College Cork)
Description: The Gator PTO is based around a novel polymer ‘spring pump’ capable of pumping significant quantities of water at moderate pressures through conventional hydro-electric turbines. Hydro-electric technology is highly efficient, cost effective and well established. Several WEC developers, have tried to use it, but have run into two very significant challenges. Firstly, the life of cylinder seals pumping a water based fluid was inadequate for a commercial wave energy technology. Secondly, pipeline systems connecting the WEC to shore had significant reliability issues. The Gator PTO tackles both of these; the spring pump itself, manufactured from engineered polymer materials needs no seals and therefore offers a truly contamination-tolerant pumping device.

Contract Amount: £495,000