A new generation of wave-energy technology has been developed in the UK which can reduce the construction and installation cost while improving the practicality and flexibility in use.
The WaveSub system has been developed by Marine Power Systems (MPS), a wave power technology development company based in Swansea.
The WaveSub operates by capturing wave energy around six miles from shore, utilizing the continual orbital motion of waves to drive a sophisticated power-take-off (PTO) system. The power is transferred to land via an undersea cable. At full-scale, a WaveSub device rated at 5 MW could power approximately 5,000 homes.This is a similar power output to a large off-shore wind turbine.
WaveSub has been designed to address the main challenges of energy generation at sea.
Its depth-adjustability enables it to shelter from storms, minimising the stress put on the device and, crucially, to maintain an optimum energy generation in a broad range of sea states. Its size, components and materials have been diligently selected with a view to keeping manufacturing, transport and deployment costs down.
It can be installed rapidly and cost-effectively. Its design permits low maintenance costs and also survivability through the harshest of conditions.
Along with the environmental benefit of cutting CO2 emissions and helping to meet climate change targets globally, wave power could potentially provide jobs, energy resilience and economic benefits.
The prototype WaveSub has been towed to a site off the coast of Cornwall, England, to test the WaveSub’s power-generation capacity across a broad range of sea conditions.
MPS has developed the WaveSub utilising over £5m of funding that it has secured through private investment and highly competitive grants. These include a Research Development & Innovation Grant from the Welsh Government as well as a £2.5m grant from the European Regional Development Fund.
Once the quarter scale prototype testing is underway, MPS will open its doors to a new round of investment to see it through to full scale WaveSub commercial deployment.
The Welsh marine sector, in which MPS is a key player, is particularly well set for growth; Marine Energy Wales claimed in March 2017 that marine developers active in Wales will invest £1.4bn over the next five years if the right incentives are in place for renewable energy.
This follows a recent £76m investment in a marine energy centre around the Port of Milford Haven in South Wales.