The Scenario Creation tool – a structured approach to concept generation for wave energy

WES is developing a structured approach to wave energy concept creation through Project SEAWEED. The wave energy sector has a need for an organised and logical approach to the generation of new concepts, as identified by such projects as WaveSPARC and the development of the Structured Innovation tool as part of the Horizon 2020 funded project DTOceanPlus.

WES have been developing a tool to be used by a range of stakeholders in the sector to bring structure to concept generation. The details of this tool are outlined below.

The purpose of the Scenario Creation tool is to generate scenarios and rank them in order of Commercial Attractiveness (CA) and Technical Achievability (TA). This ranking can then be used to explore wave energy technology development activities.

The user of the tool can be anyone from a technology developer, public or private investor, or researcher who has a desire to assess different options of attractive concepts in wave energy technology. A key focus of developing this tool has been on not relying on existing technologies, but ensuring the outputs not only include but push the boundaries of what hasn’t been considered before, so that as a sector we can be confident that uncharted territories are considered in order to help towards the goal of producing cost effective wave energy technology.

The scope of this tool goes beyond the market for grid scale electricity generation, to consider the overall opportunity to achieve a return on investment from harnessing of ocean wave energy resources.

As a process, the tool works as follows:

  • The user chooses some Universal Parameters such as:
    • Target LCOE (£/MWh): Above this value, scenarios are deemed commercially unattractive and can be filtered out.
    • Degree of Freedom: The mode of energy extraction (i.e. Heave/ surge/ pitch etc)
    • Improvement potential: Improvement potential for energy extraction (Low/ medium/ high)
    • Cost centre breakdown: % of CAPEX for Structure, PTO, Moorings, Connection and Installation.
  • The user selects ranges of ‘What-if’ parameters:
    • Scale (L): the active device width in the calculation of power production.
    • Resource level (J ̅): the annual average wave power flux (kW/m) available at a site.
    • Efficiency (ε ̅): the annual average wave-to-wire efficiency which is the ratio of incident power to produced power.
    • CAPEX (£): the capital expenditure wholly occurring in project year zero.
    • Material: The predominant material the Wave Energy Converter is made of including choices of steel, rubber, glass reinforced plastic and concrete.

The tool then generates thousands of scenarios made up of combinations of the choices made. These are displayed as a list and ranked in order of the Commercial Attractiveness (CA) and Technical Achievability (TA).

Filters are applied to remove impossible or technically unachievable scenarios. The filters are as follows:

  • Attractive?: The Attractive filter is used to filter out scenarios with low CA (do not meet the target LCOE value).
  • Possible?: The Possible filter is used to filter out impossible scenarios (due to the laws of physics).
  • Achievable?: The Achievable filter is used to filter out scenarios with a high TA score.
  • Achieved?: The Achieved filter is used to filter out scenarios which have scores which never been achieved before in industry.

The final output are solutions which are both commercially attractive and technically achievable. The tool is flexible to give the user the ability to iteratively select different ranges of What-if parameters and Target LCOE values, to home in on solutions which meet their needs.

The aim is that this tool will help open up new avenues for developers to investigate, and help put some structure behind the initial ‘lightbulb’ moment of concept creation. WES will use these outputs to guide future support mechanisms to ensure the best technologies progress into the later development stages.

This tool will be available in Summer 2021 and will be delivered as part of the DTOceanPlus project. It will be open source and considered as the beginning of a structured approach which can be added to, augmented, and used by the wave energy sector to help towards the shared goal of moving towards commercialisation of wave energy technology.