Photo: Image provided by HACE.

HACE commissions its first wave energy converter

Image provided by HACE.

Hydro Air Concept Energy (HACE) commissioned its first wave energy converter with multiple oscillating water columns on August 31 in the Atlantic Port of La Rochelle, located in Biscay Bay in western France.

This comes after HACE, the French wave energy technology developer, conducted the first launch of its 50kW prototype to try it out before deployment. Following the first launch, done earlier in August, the prototype – measuring 20 by 18 meters – was rested on the ground for inspection, final adjustments, checks and various finishing touches.

Now, the installed wave energy converter will stay at the site to undergo preliminary testing for a time period yet to be specified.

HACE states that its device is a viable solution, both in terms of technology and cost-efficiency, as it favors the most permanent possible operation and is sensitive to the lightest, and even disordered, movements of the sea, rather than seeking to achieve high power generation in rare conditions.

The system, based on transforming the movement of the swell into electricity, recovers the oscillating movement of water to compress air and pass it through a turbine that generates electricity. According to its developer, the advantages that HACE wave energy converter brings are due to the fine tuning of all sub-assemblies.

“We produce electricity almost all the time with a very high load factor, much higher than other renewable energy solutions. In addition, we produce energy when the needs are greatest, as waves are generally higher in the evening and in winter,” said Jean-Luc Stanek, Chairman of HACE’s Board of Directors.

“The principle of the oscillating water column had existed for ages. But it has never been exploited as we do. The patented design of our products allows us to capture the energy of a wide spectrum of waves, starting from 50 cm. However, most bodies of water are almost constantly agitated by small waves. This has two decisive consequences for the supply we put on the market: the crushing of fixed costs, and low production intermittency,” Stanek explained.

The French wave energy technology developer is supported by Bordeaux Montesquieu Technopole and UNITEC, the main support structure for start-ups in the Bordeaux area and New Aquitaine. From 2018, HACE will also receive support through an innovation grant from the New Aquitaine Region and from the European Union through the Horizon 2020 programme.