A new £9½ million marine energy test centre has been opened by Edinburgh university.
The FloWave Ocean Energy Research facility has the capability to recreate scale version equivalents of waves reaching 28 metres in height and fast-moving currents of up to 14 knots – which are typical off coastlines around the UK and Europe.
The opening of this new state-of-the-art site at the city’s King’s Buildings campus marks another step towards the commercial development of wave and tidal energy at a potentially lower cost.
The centrepiece is a circular pool, 2m deep by 25m across. By allowing developers to test devices in a range of sea conditions, on demand, the time in which they can see demonstrable results in their work could be significantly shortened. Similar tests in open waters may take months or years, while the new site can achieve these in days or weeks.
The FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility is the world’s most sophisticated ocean simulator. The first of its kind in the world, the circular FloWave test tank combines complex wide-area multidirectional wave simulation with fast tidal flows.
Conceived for cutting edge academic research into wave and tidal current interactions, FloWave is the world’s only ocean research facility able to simulate combinations of real-sea currents and waves at 1/20th scale or larger.
It is expected that the facility will be used to test full-scale devices such as wave and tidal energy converters, but it can also be utilised to develop floating offshore wind platforms and refine vessels needed to install offshore wind projects.
Dee Nunn, Wave and Tidal Development Manager, Renewable UK, said: “The opening of Flowave adds a string to the bow of the UK’s suite of test facilities for marine energy and will contribute to maintaining the world-leading position of the UK in this sector. The facility will help improve reliability and reduce costs and the results could provide additional confidence to investors as we move towards the first commercial arrays.
“The scale of opportunity for wave and tidal is huge with the potential to supply around 20% of the UK’s current electricity demand and we hope this will encourage more investors to get their feet wet”.