Photo: Illustration (Courtesy of OceanACT)

Five Portuguese institutions join forces for open sea testing of ocean technologies

Five Portuguese institutions – CEiiA, +ATLANTIC CoLAB, Fórum Oceano, INESC TEC, and WavEC – have have come together under the name of OceanACT to promote the testing of innovative ocean technologies in Portugal.

Illustration (Courtesy of OceanACT)
Illustration (Courtesy of OceanACT)

The main objective of the consortium is to create the OceanACT-Atlantic Lab for Future Technologies, a development, test, demonstration, and qualification centre for technologically innovative services and products within the framework of the blue economy.

The centre will be responsible for managing and boosting the offshore demonstration infrastructures available in the country.

The creation of the OceanACT consortium, in July this year, reinforces the commitment of the five founding institutions to turn Portugal into a reference point for testing ocean technologies, a fundamental and decisive step in the development of scientific research infrastructures and the optimization of their performance.

The initiative will allow the Aguçadoura test site and the Viana do Castelo pilot zone to be articulated to other infrastructures for testing marine robotics, telecommunications, and detection technologies for monitoring and operation activities in the ocean environment.

António Sarmento, president of WavEC and chief of the OceanACT consortium, has highlighted the importance of having an institution that focuses efforts in creating in Portugal a strategic and globally recognized point in the development of highly innovative ocean technologies:

Sarmento said: “The ocean will be the new frontier of knowledge and economy in the 21st century and this requires the development, testing and validation of a wide range of technologies and suppliers.

“Several European initiatives to create networks of oceanic test centres point in that direction. Portugal must be at the forefront of this movement and thus help the national value chain to anticipate its possible supplies, the development of industrial property, and the creation of qualified jobs. OceanACT has this ambition and will be an entity open to other partners who identify with the project”.

The consortium will foster the operationalisation and updating of existing test infrastructures, leveraging the attraction of demonstration projects in these facilities, the offer of associated services, and the articulation of access mechanisms to the infrastructures with the competent administrations.

Portugal has hosted the tests of several innovative ocean renewable energy technologies, such as the Pico Island wave energy plant, the Archimedes Waveswing – AWS, the Pelamis, the WindFloat prototype, and the Waveroller.

Soon, CorPower’s HiWave-5 wave energy demonstration project will also be implemented in Aguçadoura, a test site that has hosted several tests in the wave energy area, and currently, the WindFloat Atlantic Park is installed in the Viana do Castelo pilot zone.

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Through the development of areas such as marine renewable energies and ocean observation, the blue economy represents more and more a relevant role in the dynamization of the Portuguese economy.

However, there is still a great potential for the development and demonstration of ocean technologies, not only for energy production, but also for offshore aquaculture and support systems like autonomous underwater robotic systems for inspection, operation, or maintenance.

Currently, processes of administrative nature are underway, and the consortium’s goal is to establish the OceanACT legal entity in 2022, and for the development and testing centre to start its activities in 2023, the partners said.