Research Project Boosts Performance of Wave Energy Converters

Published Apr 8, 2020 8:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

The three-year Horizon 2020-funded WaveBoost project has resulted in a step change improvement achieved to the reliability and performance of wave energy technology. 

Led by CorPower Ocean, the WaveBoost consortium designed and developed an advanced power take off (PTO) system allowing wave energy converters (WECs) to operate safer and more reliably in harsh ocean conditions while increasing annual electricity production by 27 percent. 

The system incorporates a new pneumatic module that has 80 percent less components, thus reducing complexity and CAPEX while improving reliability, compared to previous designs. An energy redistribution system manages fluctuating power input from ocean waves to support grid integration and increase energy production. 

New dynamic seals were designed and tested resulting in 70 percent improvement in friction, while flow losses have been reduced by up to 90 percent compared to previous product. The improvements enabled the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) to drop by 18-29 percent, with operational expenditure expected to decrease by up to 30 percent. 

Lifecycle analysis undertaken on a theoretical 50MW array deployed in Scotland indicated a carbon intensity already as low as 31.4 gCO2e/kWh based on the first prototype WEC generation design alone. This carbon intensity is comparable with other renewable technologies today and is over 10 times less than conventional gas turbines, securing the pathway to low carbon intensity WEC technology. 

CorPower Ocean is now working towards the manufacturing, dry testing and deployment of its next full scale C4 WEC.

The WaveBoost project consortium included CorPower Ocean (project lead), Arcos Hydraulik, the Research Institute of Sweden (RISE), EDP Innovação, WavEC Offshore Renewables, The University of Edinburgh, and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC). DNV GL carried out the certification of the advanced PTO systems.