Scots marine energy pioneers share in £2.25m wave energy converter contract

Wave power general2 HWUWave Energy Scotland (WES) has announced the following list of successful applicants following its second, competitive call for novel wave energy converters.

Over £2.25m will be awarded to eight technology developers and consortia – including five Scottish companies – all looking to develop their technology through rigorous testing towards commercialisation.

These projects will complete Stage 1 of the WES technology development process, with contract costs in the region of £300k each over 12 months.

The quango tender received 37 applications from companies and consortia located all around Europe.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “I am delighted that Wave Energy Scotland, our unique body which brings together the best engineering and academic minds in a collaborative research and development programme to accelerate wave technology, is continuing to attract global interest from across Europe and beyond.

“I’m also very pleased to see that Scottish firms and institutions lead five of the eight projects in the second call for novel wave energy converters. This once again affirms the home-grown expertise that we have right here on our own doorstep.

“These novel projects will bring us closer to developing a successful wave energy industry with Scotland firmly at the helm.”

The state-funded Wave Energy quango (itself part of another quango) was set up by the Scot-Govt after the recent collapse of Pelamis and the decline – and now fall – of Aquamarine Power, two of the once-brightest stars in the Scottish wave-power firmament.

However, independent renewables experts fear that wave power is the wrong place to be looking to generate marine-related energy, pointing out the harsh environment on the sea-surface, compared to the much less hostile sub-surface sea-bed environment.  MPs on the cross-party Holyrood committee on renewable energy were told recently:

“Everyone knew that Pelamis would never fly – even it if had been called ‘Pegasus’!”

The successful New Wave Energy Convertor projects (not listed in order of final score or ranking) are:

Attenuator Cost of Energy Reduction (ACER)
Lead Partner: 4C Engineering 
Other partners: Sea Power Ltd

Contract Amount: £300,000
The Sea Power Platform is a two-body wave energy converter that has been under development since 2008. It is classed as a floating attenuator device with energy extracted via the relative motion of two bodies connected by a hinged joint. A power take-off system interfaces the two bodies at the hinge and extracts power by damping the motions of the device in wave climates. This project will bring together design engineers and experts from various fields to carry out realistic small scale testing and conceptual full scale studies in order to quantify the cost of energy  (and hence gauge how economical the device could be in a proposed novel form).

WaveTrain Sloped Pneumatic WEC
Lead Partner: Joules Energy Efficiency Services Ltd

Contract amount: £291,039
The WaveTrain device is essentially an array of several power modules, each utilising a collection of parallel inclined tubes, open at the bottom but closed with a canopy at the free surface and utilising a pneumatic turbine power take-off system.

WaveNET Series 12
Lead Partner: Albatern Ltd

Contract amount: £259,867
Albatern Ltd are developers of the WaveNET array system for wave energy conversion. The array is constructed of hexagonally interconnected ‘Squid’ modules, each consisting of three articulated link arms connected together in a star formation at a central node with a surface piercing central riser. Passing waves induce motion at the articulated joints, and this relative motion is converted to electrical power via a hydraulic take-off system.

Mocean Wave Energy Converter
Lead Partner: Mocean Energy Ltd

Other partner: Edinburgh University

Contract amount: £299,491

The Mocean WEC is a hinged raft. Wave forcing and the bodies’ dynamic responses leads to a motion about the hinge (called flex), which drives a power take-off mechanism that converts the kinetic energy into electricity. It has 7 degrees of freedom (DOF). The innovation of the Mocean WEC is in the design of the shapes of the bodies, which dramatically improves its dynamics and thus power absorption.

CCell Mark 3 – Novel Curved WEC Optimisation
Lead Partner: Zyba Limited

Other partner: Bath University

Contract amount: £252,024.88

CCell is an Oscillating Wave Surge Converter (OWSC) designed to maximise the energy extracted from ocean waves through curvature of the paddle. Laboratory tests of the curved Mark 1 CCell paddle and its control system have demonstrated a four-fold increase in performance-to-cost ratio compared to other flap-based WECs. The curved structure not only improves the hydrodynamic performance, extracting more energy from each wave, but it also provides additional strength that reduces the amount of material needed to construction the paddle (also the prime mover).

AISV – Automatically Inflatable and Stowable Volume for step reduction in WEC cost of energy
Lead Partner: Quoceant Ltd

Contract amount: £300,000
The Novel Device Concept proposed here is a large Automatically Inflatable and Stowable Volume to significantly change the hull volume of a given machine configuration to deliver a much better engineering and economic compromise, rather than a completely new machine concept or class.

Anaconda Novel Wave Energy Converter
Lead Partner: Checkmate Seaenergy Ltd

Contract amount: £271,012

Anaconda is a ‘radically new approach’ to wave energy conversion. In essence, it is a long water-filled flexible rubber tube floating just beneath the sea surface and aligned in the direction of wave travel, with a power generating turbine at the stern. As a wave passes, the tube flexes due to varying pressures in the sea causing a “bulge” wave to propagate down the tube’s length, gathering energy from the sea wave as it goes. Continuous energy gathering results from careful design of the system, matching a resonance between the bulge wave and the incident sea wave. Energy from the sea wave is stored in the tube as the bulge wave grows and stretches the rubber. The bulge wave travels just in front of the wave rather like a surfer, picking up energy as it progressively increases in size. At the end of the tube, the bulge wave energy surge drives a turbine in the power take off after the flow has been smoothed.

Advanced Archimedes Waveswing
Lead Partner: AWS Ocean Energy Ltd

Contract amount: £284,853

This project will investigate potential for significant improvements to the economic performance of the Archimedes Waveswing™ WEC following recent innovations and developments. The original Waveswing concept was tested and demonstrated at large scale offshore Portugal in 2004 however despite significant research and development effort the configuration was found not to provide an economic solution to offshore wave power generation at that time. Recent work by AWS Ocean Energy has improved the fundamental understanding of the device and as a result has identified new configurations for the concept which will provide a very significant improvement to the cost of energy whilst reducing technical risk.

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