Scot-Govt. sinks another £2m into four ‘water-babies’ in its wave-power incubator

wave-power-general2-hwuFour ocean energy developers are to be awarded a total of £2 million development funding by Wave Energy Scotland after successfully competing to the second phase of a technology programme.

The funding will support further design, modelling and testing of technologies being developed to help commercialise the Scottish wave energy sector.

This brings the total investment by the organisation in Scottish wave energy technology development to £11.8 million across 39 projects in less than two years.

But while sea-surface, wave-power technologies are struggling to establish themselves following the financial sinking of Pelamis, sea-bed surface tidal energy is striding ahead, with Atlantis Resources plc aiming for first-power from its Pentland Firth Meygen project next year.

WES selected the projects as the most promising of eight applications from contractors in stage one of its Power Take Off (PTO) programme, which focuses on solutions to convert the movement of wave energy converters to electricity. The winning projects will now progress to stage two of the programme, which they are expected to complete in the next year.

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Energy Minister, said: ““Wave energy has great potential to contribute to Scotland’s energy supply and that of the UK and EU. If we are able to harness this important energy resource, there are great opportunities to generate exports to the rest of the world.

“The Scottish Government’s sustained funding has allowed companies to develop genuinely novel components for wave energy devices.”

The four projects progressing to stage two of the wave energy convertor programme are:

Wave Energy Transmission Module; Contract Award: £496,200

Lead Partner: Romax Technology Limited (with Sea Power Limited and FloWave TT) 

Description: During the Stage 1 project, an investigation was carried out into the feasibility of designing and manufacturing a geared PTO suitable for deployment on a large, deep-water attenuator-type WEC (the SeaPower platform). Results from Stage 1 indicated significant potential to enhance energy capture by broadening the speed range over which the PTO can capture energy – currently limited by the capability of commercially available power converters. This is the priority for further investigation at Stage 2.


Power Electronic Controlled Magnet Gear: Contract Award: £498,420 

Lead Partner: Ecosse Sub-sea Systems Ltd, (with Supply Design Ltd and Bathwick Electrical Design Ltd and Pure Marine Gen Ltd)

Description: The PECMAG PTO system is a modular all-electric system with magnetic gearing that is being developed to suit a variety of WEC devices.

The project aims to demonstrate the performance enhancing capability at a ¼ scale in the lab (TRL4), and provide greater insight into the systems potential. Building on a successful Phase 1 feasibility study that highlighted enhanced availability, torque & rated power/£ ratios combined with the inherent efficiency and survivability improvements. System design, modelling and LCOE calculations will be carried out in conjunction with the technology development to provide a robust knowledge pack to support test results.

With low cost linear and rotary PTO system options that offer flexible installation and deployment possibilities, this project aims to bring the technology closer to market and open up dialogue with WEC developers.


PROJECT: Inflatable Dielectric Elastomer Generator PTO: Contract award: £498,000

Lead Partner: Scuola Superiore di Studi Universitari e di Perfezionamento Sant’Anna (with The University of Edinburgh, Università di Bologna, and Cheros Srl)

Description: The Project aims to further develop a breakthrough technology for the conversion of ocean wave energy into electricity through the use of electrostatic or dielectric elastomer generators (DEGs). These compounds are highly deformable solid-state capacitors that convert the mechanical work required for the deformation into stored electrostatic energy. DEG technology allows the merging of the primary mover and power-take-off (PTO) components of Wave Energy Converters (WECs) into a single deformable body (typically a membrane) with the function of both capturing ocean wave energy and converting it into electricity.


PROJECT: GATOR-2: a compliant seal free hydraulic PTO: Contract Award: £495,000

Lead Partner: Exceedence Ltd (with Technology from Ideas Ltd, Pelagic Innovation Ltd, University of Strathclyde and University College Cork)

Description: The Gator PTO is based around a novel polymer ‘spring pump’ capable of pumping significant quantities of water at moderate pressures through conventional hydro-electric turbines. Hydro-electric technology is highly efficient, cost effective and well established. Several WEC developers, have tried to use it, but have run into two very significant challenges. Firstly, the life of cylinder seals pumping a water based fluid was inadequate for a commercial wave energy technology. Secondly, pipeline systems connecting the WEC to shore had significant reliability issues.

The Gator PTO tackles both of these; the spring pump itself, manufactured from engineered polymer materials needs no seals and therefore offers a truly contamination-tolerant pumping device.


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