Belgian wave-power consortium to test its new storm protection system off Orkney

The EMEC wave power  test site at Billia Croo, Orkney, will put the Laminaria wave energy convertor into rough seas.
The EMEC wave power test site at Billia Croo, Orkney, will put the Laminaria wave energy convertor into rough seas.

A Belgian-led wave-power consortium plans to test a new machine that ‘hides’ below the sea surface in extreme weather to protect the device at the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre.

Rough weather and heavy seas have been the critical weakness of surface-based wave power projects.

The LAMWEC project is made up of a consortium of ocean energy experts, with over 30 years of combined practical experience in the sector. The consortium is led by Laminaria, and includes EMEC, Innosea, Ghent University, and TTI Testing.

The Laminaria wave energy converter has undergone tank-testing in the lab at Plymouth University is now planning to develop and test a full-scale 200kW to prove the survivability of a pre-commercial scale converter which incorporates Laminaria’s innovative load management mechanism and storm protection system.

Innosea tested a 1/16 scale model at Plymouth to explore the load regimes that the device will experience when it is tested at full-scale at the European Marine Energy Centre in  Summer 2017.

Laminaria's storm protection system brings with wave energy convertor sub-surface in rough water tank-tests
Laminaria’s storm protection system brings with wave energy convertor sub-surface in rough water tank-tests

Steven Nauwelaerts, Laminaria’s Chief Executive, said: “Our unique selling point is our storm protection strategy, which allows the device to keep producing at nominal power during the heaviest of storms without undergoing excessive forces.

“The LAMWEC project will take a number of important steps to develop the Laminaria WEC and prove its survivability. These steps include:

The design and build of a 200kW Laminaria WEC incorporating a scaled-up version of the power take-off (PTO) and storm protection system 

  • The development of a new anchor design suitable for a range of seabed configurations;
  • The development of a mooring and pulley system for the 11.8m diameter (270 tonne) device that will support the innovative storm protection system, PTO, and frame; and
  • Performance assessment of the full-scale device at TRL 7 in real sea conditions at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland.”

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