Project to Enhance Wave Energy Technology Using Composite Materials
A new project is getting underway that will explore using new designs and materials to further enhance the performance from wave energy. Projects looking to harvest electricity from waves are one of the latest efforts design to leverage natural resources in the efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve decarbonization.
The project, which is known as COMPACT (COMposite Pressure cAsing for CosT) Project, will combine wave energy technology with low-cost composite design and fabrication processes from the offshore industry. The project aims to boost the performance and slash costs of the Swedish company CorPower’s WECs (Wave Energy Converters), by combining it with OPS Composite Solutions of Norway’s experience in developing composite pressure vessels for offshore applications.
“The process will involve developing, testing, manufacturing, and certifying an innovative light-weight pressure casing (cylinder), which is a key component of our WEC system,” explains CorPower Portugal Country Manager Miguel Silva. “By making the WEC significantly lighter and using cost-effective materials and production technology, the COMPACT solution aims to increase energy efficiency while decreasing cost of energy.”
The efforts to commercialize wave energy technology builds on three decades of research on wave hydrodynamics and more than a decade of product development. CorPower reports that its Wave Energy Converter (WEC) produces five times more electricity per ton than any other known wave technology by combining storm survivability and with a strongly amplified power capture in regular sea conditions.
Rendering of wave energy technology combined with an offshore wind farm - CorPower
CorPower is currently fabricating its first commercial scale C4 WEC - 9x18m, weighing 60 tons with a 300kW power rating for its demonstration project known as HiWave-5. Dry testing is scheduled for spring 2021, before ocean installation in the second half of 2021. This will be followed by a cycle of testing and design updates to further develop the commercial stage C5 machines. A total of three C5 machines will then be installed in Aguçadoura in 2023 to form a grid-connected pilot array and secure type certification.
By combining CorPower’s WEC design with OPS’ experience in composite pressure vessels for offshore applications the companies are aiming to develop new technology addressing two common challenges experienced in wave energy technology, namely weight and price. They believe the results of this effort will also help to speed up the process of commercialization.
Financial backing for the COMPACT project comes from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway under the EEA Grants Blue Growth Programme which awarded the project nearly $600,000 for the research. The EEA Grants program is committed to stimulating blue economy innovation, creating jobs, and driving growth for SMEs.
CorPower also says that the COMPACT project will contribute to the Portuguese Industrial Strategy for Ocean Renewable Energies. Ocean renewable energy has the potential to supply 25 percent of Portugal’s annual power consumption.