Research centers take on marine energy technology reliability testing

Three European research and testing sites are collaborating on the development of a methodology to improve reliability in marine energy converters.

Scotland’s European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is working with the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden to improve reliability testing, with the aim of building robustness into marine energy technology design and performance, EMEC’s press release reads.

Funded through the OCEANERA-NET initiative, the Reliability in a Sea of Risk (RiaSoR) project aims to establish industry best practice in reliability testing for wave and tidal energy devices through improved load measurements and verification, while increasing safety in marine energy operations.

The industry-approved reliability testing practices developed by RiaSoR will be applied through the leading ocean energy testing houses to ensure consistency and robustness by which reliability is demonstrated across all wave and tidal technologies.

Karen Fraser, Marine Energy Senior Executive at Scottish Enterprise and Coordinator of OCEANERA-NET, said: “RiaSoR addresses two of the main challenges identified by the OCEANERA-NET project: reliability and survivability of ocean energy technologies; and design and development of components for ocean energy technologies. This will ultimately reduce HSE risks, technological risks, and operations and maintenance risks, with the aim to lowering the levelised cost of energy for the sector, and speeding up progression to commercialisation.”

Elaine Buck, EMEC’s Technical Business Development Manager, added: “Every technology that has been deployed in the extreme wave and tidal conditions at EMEC’s test sites has encountered challenges with reliability and survivability. For a test site to provide a comprehensive testing service, we need to understand the potential failures as early as possible to reduce the risk, cost and time for the developer. The development of this reliability test programme will be of great benefit to the marine energy developers who utilise our test sites.”

The overall technical approach will be driven by SP Research Institute, bringing their experience of reliability from the automotive industry.

Pierre Ingmarsson from SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden said: “We will develop a programme for transferring skills in reliability analysis to marine energy developers through the testing houses. This will ensure that the practical methodologies developed in this project are taken up by industry and make a lasting impact.”

By reducing associated risks and enhancing reliability, the project aims to encourage increased investment in the industry by both the public and private sector.

After the methodologies have been produced, an approved reliability methodology framework will be published for use by other test sites, and an educational workshop will be delivered to disseminate the findings from the project to technology developers and the wider industry, according to EMEC.