Wave power for subsea equipment demo grabs oil & gas industry’s attention

European and Asian energy companies have paid a visit to a demonstration project for powering subsea equipment with wave power and subsea energy storage, led jointly by Mocean Energy and Verlume with other consortium partners, in Orkney.

Blue X. Courtesy of Mocean Energy

The €2.3 million (£2 million) project, called Renewables for Subsea Power (RSP), which connects Mocean Energy-built Blue X wave energy converter with Verlume-developed Halo underwater battery system, was seen first-hand by representatives from companies including Bridge Petroleum, PTTEP, Harbour Energy, Serica Energy and Baker Hughes last week.

The two technologies were deployed in the seas off Orkney earlier this year and are now nearing the end of a four-month test programme where they have delivered low-carbon power and communication to infrastructure including Baker Hughes’ subsea controls equipment and a resident underwater autonomous vehicle (AUV) provided by Transmark Subsea.

The project aims to show how green technologies can be combined to provide reliable low-carbon power and communications to subsea equipment, offering a cost-effective alternative to umbilical cables, which are carbon-intensive with long lead times to procure and install.

Regarding the visit, Mocean Energy managing director Cameron McNatt said: “The day went really well. There is growing interest in the oil and gas sector in routes to decarbonisation and the day was an opportunity to showcase our technologies to potential customers alongside our existing project partners, and to share our exciting growth plans.”

McNatt added that the company plans to launch its first commercial product – the 20kW Blue Star – in 2025 and is now seeking early adopters worldwide.

“We hope the day demonstrated the capabilities of these combined technologies and their capacity to decarbonise oil and gas operations in the near term.”

Andy Martin, chief commercial officer at Verlume, added: “It was great to welcome representatives from across the sector to discuss the magnitude of the project and to showcase in person the activities that are taking place in Orkney.

“Verlume’s Halo plays a key role here by providing a reliable, uninterrupted source of power to overcome the intermittency of renewable energy to deliver energy security and ultimately facilitate the integration of green energy into subsea projects of the future. The successful testing of the resident AUV and docking unit will also pave the way for decarbonising inspection routines.”

Nigel Money, managing director of Transmark Subsea, noted that the company representatives were able to try flying the tethered version of the ARV-i as well as seeing the video captured during the recent testing where 50 successful autonomous docking and un-docking manoeuvres were carried out on the Transmark dock mounted to Verlume’s Halo. 

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The Orkney deployment is the third phase of the RSP project which is being supported by the consortium partners, which also include UK-based energy companies Harbour Energy and Serica Energy, with the grant support funding provided by the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) for each phase of the program.

The current test programme will raise the system’s technology readiness level (TRL) to 7 (actual system completed and qualified via test and demonstration).

In 2021, Mocean Energy’s Blue X prototype underwent a programme of at-sea testing at the European Marine Energy Centre’s Scapa Flow test site in Orkney where they generated first power and gathered significant data on machine performance and operation. The Blue X programme was made possible through £3.3 million from Wave Energy Scotland which supported the development, construction and testing of the Blue X prototype at sea.

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