Deploying Wave Energy Prototype Test off Scotland
Several companies are working on the development of wave energy generation as part of a test project in northern Scotland. The companies will be testing the ability to work in various sea states to capture tidal energy as an additional source of renewable energy along with the efforts to develop offshore wind in the region.
Recently, the 65-foot-long Blue X wave energy prototype developed by Mocean Energy was towed from Kirkwall to the European Marine Energy Center’s (EMEC) test site in the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland. The 38-ton wave machine was moored near Scapa Flow, where it is being commissioned for initial sea trials. Later this summer, the Blue X will be moved to EMEC’s grid-connected wave test site on the west coast of Orkney, where it will go through its paces in more rigorous full sea conditions.
Mocean Energy deploy Blue X at EMEC Scapa Flow wave energy test site (Credit Colin Keldie)
“This is a very exciting moment as we put our first prototype to test at sea,” said Mocean Energy Managing Director Cameron McNatt. “In the Scapa testing phase, we will test power production and compare results against our numerical predictions, and we will test operations including towing, installation, removal, and access at sea. The device is standalone and operated wirelessly. A 4G connection allows us to send commands and download data from shore.”
The company believes that the technology is ideally suited to several offshore operations where it can tap the natural energy source to provide electric power. Longer-term, McNatt said he thinks grid-scale machines will be able to tap into deep ocean waves to generate significant quantities of clean energy.
“Congratulations to the Mocean Energy team on the safe installation of the Blue X wave energy converter at EMEC’s Scapa Flow demonstration site,” said Neil Kermode, Managing Director at EMEC. “This successful operation is the culmination of many weeks of hard work and planning by Mocean Energy, EMEC, and Leask Marine. We’re now eager to see how it begins its work up in the initially gentle wave climate at Scapa prior to the next stage sea trials at Billia Croo.”
Blue X in operation at EMEC Scapa Flow wave energy test site (credit Colin Keldie)
Next year, after the current initial tests, Mocean Energy plans to begin to explore the potential applications offshore for its prototype. They plan to connect the device to a subsea battery that will be used to power a remotely operated autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).
The Blue X manufacture and testing program is being supported by £3.3 million from Wave Energy Scotland (WES) through their Novel Wave Energy Converter program and by Interreg North-West Europe’s Ocean DEMO project. The test will be part of a project with OGTC, oil major Harbour Energy, and subsea specialists EC-OG and Modus to demonstrate the potential of the Blue X prototype to power a subsea battery and a remote underwater vehicle using onshore testing at EC-OG’s Aberdeen facility.
In April, another project also moved what it termed the world’s most powerful tidal turbine into position off the Scottish coast, where it will undergo commissioning before being hooked into the local onshore electricity network. Known as Orbital O2, it is being anchored in the Fall of Warness, a high-tidal energy environment in the northeast area of Orkney near the island of Eday for its commissioning.
The area near Orkney is ideal for the technology as it has some of the strongest tidal currents in the world.