A next-generation wave energy conversion (WEC) device being developed by Finland’s AW-Energy is set to start powering homes in the Portuguese surfer town of Peniche, with commissioning complete and switch-on of its connection to the national grid said to be “imminent”.
The WaveRoller, a now “commercially ready” version of a concept that has been in testing since 2009, is a 3MW WEC that delivers a “continuous” 350kW production output.
The WEC, installed 820 metres offshore in the Atlantic Ocean, has been undergoing extended sea trials to fine-tune its control system to maximise performance and yield.
“At this phase of the installation, we are collecting data 24/7 to monitor the performance of the device using motion, pressure and strain gauge sensors that are engineered in to its panel, foundation and bearings,” said AW-Energy CEO Christopher Ridgewell.
“The data we are receiving indicates WaveRoller is operating well and performance is in accordance with our expectations.
“The next phase of the project is injecting the power output to the Portuguese national transmission grid from the onshore substation. Commissioning work is already in progress with the local authorities to connect the substation to the local grid.”
The WaveRoller is built around a submerged steel panel fixed to seabed that flexes as waves pass over it, driving a hydraulic piston that pumps transfer fluid into a hydraulic motor to powers a generator on shore.
The latest version of the device has a power take-off rating that is “more than three-fold” higher than the previous prototype, and improved energy yield created by changes to the panel engineering.
According to a WaveRoller spokesman, the projected project levellised cost of energy for the new device “has also significantly decreased”, though no specific MW/h figure could be provided.
Wave power is enjoying a recent upsurge in industrial interest after a slump in the emerging market in 2014 that led to lead players Pelamis and Aquamarine Power going into receivership.
Estimates of the size and speed of the potential wave and tidal energy roll-out around the world range widely. Ocean Energy Europe, the industry’s representative body in Europe, is targeting 100GW of installed capacity by 2050, meeting 10% of member states’ power demand.