Photo: Illustration/MPS' quarter-scale WaveSub device (Courtesy of MPS)

MPS tackles recyclability and environmental impacts of marine energy tech

Welsh marine energy company Marine Power Systems (MPS) has launched a research project, in collaboration with the Swansea University, to help understand the whole life costs and recyclability of its marine energy technology.

Illustration/MPS' quarter-scale WaveSub device (Courtesy of MPS)
Illustration/MPS’ quarter-scale WaveSub device (Courtesy of MPS)

Whilst Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) is fundamental to understanding and comparing how renewable energy technologies deliver return on investment, there is very little research on the recyclability and environmental impact of renewable energy technology, according to MPS.

Therefore, with the support of the cross-border marine energy project SELKIE, the company has partnered up with the Swansea University to undertake a project to help understand the whole life costs and recyclability of its technology.

Through an internship funded by SELKIE, the project has welcomed Dafydd Herdman, a researcher with experience in the recycling of fiberglass composite wind turbine blades, to help tackle the issue.

“At Swansea University we are committed to producing confident, adaptable and highly-employable graduates. MPS and its work is at the forefront of renewable energy solutions that can be configured to harness wind and wave power and it has been fantastic to be able to support Dafydd via Swansea University’s Graduate Support Programme, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), in a role where he is making a real impact”, said Helyn Taylor, graduate support programme delivery co-ordinator at Swansea University.

The project covers three areas, including the analysis of the recyclability of MPS’ technology and possible design modifications to support that.

Also, the project will aim to get a better understanding of the lifecycle and maintainability of MPS’ technology, and perform analysis of the carbon footprint associated with deploying the company’s devices compared to competitor technologies.

Herdman said: “It is hugely important that marine energy developers understand the wider and longer-term impact they are having on the environment. Early indications from the research demonstrates that the design of our devices supports a lower carbon footprint compared to other technologies.

“Largely down to a lower overall system mass and the modular nature of the technology which supports local content delivery through a decentralised logistics model.

“Whilst the vast majority of the materials used to manufacture our devices is recyclable, further improvements in their carbon footprint can be made through careful consideration around the steel manufacturing processes we use”.

Through improved design, manufacturing and operations as well as reduced decommissioning costs, MPS said it would not only be able to increase the LCOE of its devices but also the whole life environmental impact of its technology.

“This is very much in line with our vision for the future, one where business and technology supports both economic and environmental sustainability and builds on some of the fundamental principles of a circular economy”, said MPS.

MPS’ mission is to become a world leader in the manufacturing and supply of marine energy extraction hardware by having the highest performance and most cost-effective technology available in the market.

It has developed a flexible floating platform technology that can be configured to harness wind and wave energy – either as a combined solution, or on their own in deep water.