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Clean Power

WEDUSEA To Test World’s Largest Wave Energy Prototype

A wave energy device constructed by Ireland’s Ocean Energy is about to being a 4-year trial designed to test the technology and determine whether it can be affordable.

WEDUSEA, a collaboration between 14 industrial and academic partners coordinated by Ireland’s Ocean Energy, is ready to begin testing of a large scale wave energy device. It will launch the €19.6 million project this week at the Conference on Ocean Energy in San Sebastian, Spain. The project is co-funded by the EU Horizon Europe Program and by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, according to a European Marine Energy Center press release.

Ocean Energy has developed the OE35, which is 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 company says the oceans are the world’s largest untapped source of renewable energy. By 2050, energy from the ocean can provide 10% of Europe’s current electricity needs and 400,000 jobs. Ocean Energy Europe is the voice of the ocean energy sector in Europe and the largest network of ocean energy professionals in the world.

Wave Energy Trial To Begin

The first phase of the 4-year project will focus on the design of a 1 MW 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 2-year grid connected demonstration at the European Marine Energy Centre’s Billia Croo wave energy test site in Orkney, Scotland.

The project aims to decrease the levelized cost of wave power energy and create a technology deployment pathway for a 20 MW pilot farm. The project will also explore an economic and life cycle analysis which will examine the opportunities for reuse and recycling of components at the end of the operations life of the device.

Tony Lewis, Chief Technical Officer at Ocean Energy, says, “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.”

European Commission spokesperson Matthijs Soede adds, “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 1 GW 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.”

The Takeaway

The power of the ocean is almost limitless. Harvesting it, however, is very difficult to to do. So far, wave and tidal energy prototypes are far too costly and far too inefficient to be realistic. Of course, not so long ago, the same could be said of wind turbines and solar panels.

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