Photo: OceanEnergy’s OE35 floating wave energy device (Courtesy of OceanEnergy)

International wave energy project sets course for demonstration offshore Scotland

A pioneering collaboration between 14 international partners has been established to deliver a €19.6 million wave energy project which aims to be the stepping stone for the commercialization of this emerging clean energy industry worldwide.

OceanEnergy’s OE35 floating wave energy device (Courtesy of OceanEnergy)
OceanEnergy’s OE35 floating wave energy device (Courtesy of OceanEnergy)

The project, named WEDUSEA, spans industry and academia from across the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, and Spain, and is coordinated by the Irish company OceanEnergy.

Co-funded by the EU Horizon Europe program and the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK, the project’s ultimate goal is to create a technology deployment pathway for a 20MW pilot farm by achieving a significant decrease in the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for wave energy industry.

Matthijs Soede, from the European Commission, said :“We are expecting WEDUSEA to take wave energy beyond the state of the art by the collaboration of partners with a multi-disciplinary background and that it will contribute to the deployment of arrays of reliable wave energy devices to achieve the 1GW target for 2030 as presented in our Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy.

“The current energy crisis shows that the use of multiple energy sources is important to improve the security of supply and a breakthrough in ocean energy would be welcome.”

World’s largest floating wave energy device in the spotlight

OceanEnergy has developed the OE35, which is said to be the world’s largest capacity floating wave energy device.

Floating on the ocean’s surface, the device incorporates a trapped air volume, with the lower part open to the sea. Wave pressures at the submerged opening cause the water to oscillate and drive the trapped air through a turbine to generate electricity. This energy can be exported to the grid or used in other offshore applications.

The first phase of the four-year project will focus on the design of a 1MW OE35 floating wave energy converter.

Innovations will focus on hull and turbine design, air flow control, power systems and moorings to increase reliability and power output. This will be followed by a two-year grid connected demonstration at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC’s) Billia Croo wave energy test site in Orkney, offshore Scotland.

Tony Lewis, chief technical officer at OceanEnergy, said: “This rigorous technical and environmental demonstration will happen over a two-year period in Atlantic wave conditions. We believe this will be transformational for the wave energy industry, with outcomes directly impacting policy, technical standards, public perception and investor confidence.

“Wave energy is the world’s most valuable and persistent renewable resource. However, it has yet to be fully realized. The project will demonstrate that wave technology is on a cost reduction trajectory and will thus be a stepping stone to larger commercial array scale up and further industrialization. We predict that the natural energy of the world’s oceans will one day supply much of the grid.”

The project will also explore a techno-economic and life cycle analysis of the pilot wave farm, looking at the circular economy and opportunities for reuse and recycling of components at the end of the operations life of the device.

Myles Heward, project manager at the EMEC, said: “The innovative actions taken in this program aim to improve the efficiency, reliability, scalability and sustainability of wave energy technology, and reduce the LCOE of the technology by over 30%. This will help to de-risk investments in wave energy.

“For the WEDUSEA project, EMEC will provide metocean, bathymetry and geophysical data to feed into the design criteria for the device and facilitate planning of offshore operations. The deployment at EMEC’s Billia Croo test site will enable collection of valuable data on performance and environmental impact.

“This will include a series of field campaigns spanning underwater and airborne acoustics, biophysical assessment of wave dynamics, fish aggregation and seabird analysis, to assess the connection between local species and technology operation. This data will build on existing environmental studies to provide regulators with improved understanding and reduced uncertainty around environmental impacts of wave energy.”

Ocean Energy Europe, the trade association representing the European ocean energy industry, has welcomed the project stating it would pave the way for the sector-wide industrialization.

“As an EU-UK collaboration project, it will demonstrate the potential for wave energy to make a significant contribution to the EU Green Deal target. Wave energy will help smooth production peaks or dips from variable wind and ensure European energy independence,” said Rémi Gruet, CEO of Ocean Energy Europe.

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