The Waveswing wave energy converter photographed at Scapa Flow, Orkney.
Sea trials of a 50-ton wave energy converter have yielded “very encouraging results,” according to the company behind its development.
On Tuesday, Scotland-based AWS Ocean Energy said the average amount of energy its device was able to capture “during a period of moderate wave conditions” was more than 10 kilowatts, while it also recorded peaks of 80 kW.
Additionally, AWS said its Waveswing is capable of operating in more challenging conditions, including magnitude 10 storms.
The part of the kit – which has been described as a “submerged wave power buoy” – is 4 meters in diameter and 7 meters high.
The Waveswing, according to AWS Ocean Energy, “reacts to changes in underwater pressure caused by passing waves and converts the resulting motion into electricity via a direct-drive generator.”
Compared to more established renewable technologies, the Waveswing is small at 16 kilowatts. Companies such as Vestas from Denmark are working on 15 megawatt wind turbines.
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This test phase is scheduled to be completed this year, with further tests scheduled for 2023.
In terms of real-world applications, AWS Ocean Energy CEO Simon Gray said the Waveswing had characteristics that made it “ideal for remote energy applications such as powering subsea oilfield facilities and oceanographic monitoring.”
Gray later added that the company also expects to “develop platforms housing up to twenty 500kW units with a potential capacity of 10MW per platform.”
The sea trials will take place at a European Marine Energy Center test site in the sheltered waters of Scapa Flow, Orkney.
Orkney, an archipelago, lies north of mainland Scotland. Since its inception in 2003, EMEC, based there, has become a major hub for wave and tidal power development.
Neil Kermode, Managing Director of EMEC, said it was “great to see the Waveswing deployed, survived and operated at our proving ground this year”.
“We know there are epic amounts of energy in the seas of Britain and around the world,” added Kermode. “It’s really rewarding to see a Scottish company making such strides in harvesting this truly sustainable energy.”
While the potential of ocean energy is exciting, the footprint of wave and tidal power projects remains very small compared to other renewable energies.
In data released in March 2022, Ocean Energy Europe said 2.2 megawatts of tidal power capacity was installed in Europe last year, compared to just 260 kilowatts in 2020.
For wave energy, 681 kW was installed, which according to the OEE means a tripling. Globally, 1.38 MW of wave power was connected to the grid in 2021, while 3.12 MW of tidal power capacity was installed.
For comparison: According to the industry association WindEurope, Europe installed 17.4 gigawatts of wind power capacity in 2021.