Finland’s full-size 1MW Penguin wave energy machine takes to the see off Orkney

A full-size Wello Penguin wave convertor undergoing tests of Orkney
A full-size Wello Penguin wave convertor undergoing tests of Orkney

Finnish wave energy developer Wello Oy has extended its testing programme at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney with a 12-month new contract.

Its full-size 1MW Penguin wave energy converter has been undergoing testing in Orkney since June 2011, and was first deployed at the island’s grid-connected wave test site at Billia Croo in 2012.

Wello Oy has now confirmed all internal components are still in good working order. The company is now focusing on demonstrating efficient and reliable device operations and performance to customers, whilst preparing for multi-device deployment in the near future.

A number of scale models of the Penguin have been built and tested successfully in laboratory and at sea, throughout which time the prototype devices gradually increased in size until the current full-scale model was developed.

The Penguin is designed to capture rotational energy generated by the movement of its asymmetrically shaped hull, which rolls, heaves and pitches with each passing wave. This motion is used to accelerate and maintain the revolutions of a spinning flywheel housed inside the hull, which in turn drives an electric generator to produce electricity that is then exported via a subsea cable.

Aki Luukkainen, Chief Executive, Wello Oy, said: “We have established a great working relationship with EMEC who have been instrumental in the deployment and operation of our Penguin wave energy converter.

“During the next test period, one of our targets is to build the business case for multi device deployments.

“The expertise and associated service portfolio that EMEC offers has been of invaluable benefit to us and we’re delighted to be continuing our real-sea trials in Orkney to further the development of our technology, and ready it for array deployment.”

In preparation for this summer’s test season, Wello is adjusting device ballasting and will implement incremental improvements to the mooring system to build on learning already achieved through their testing programme.

These changes aim to reduce operating costs related to permanent deployment at sea.

Oliver Wragg, Commercial Director at EMEC, commented: “Wello is a great example of the benefits that extended real-sea testing can provide to technology development.

“They’ve not only gained experience in installing, operating and maintaining a device in some of the harshest marine conditions, but are building on the learning gained to improve the design of their device and ready it for commercial arrays.”


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