A Waveswing wave energy converter taken at Scapa Flow in Orkney.
According to the company that developed it, sea trials of the 50-ton wave energy converter have produced “very promising results”.
Scotland-based AWS Ocean Energy said on Tuesday that the average amount of power its devices could capture “during periods of calm wave conditions” reached more than 10 kilowatts, with peaks of 80 kW also being recorded.
Additionally, AWS said Waveswing was able to operate in more difficult conditions, including: Create 10 strong winds.
Called the “Underwater Wave Power Buoy”, the kit is 4 meters in diameter and 7 meters high.
According to AWS Ocean Energy, Waveswing “responds to changes in water pressure in the ocean caused by passing waves, converting the resulting motion into electricity via a direct-drive generator.”
At 16 kilowatts, Waveswing is tiny when compared to more established renewable technologies. For example, companies such as Denmark’s Vestas We are working on a 15 megawatt wind turbine.
This phase of testing is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with more testing planned for 2023.
As for practical applications, AWS Ocean Energy CEO Simon Gray said Waveswing has features that are “ideal for remote power applications such as powering offshore oilfield assets and ocean monitoring.”
Gray later added that he also expects to “develop platforms to host up to twenty 500 kW units, with a potential capacity of 10 MW per platform.”
Sea trials are taking place at the European Marine Energy Center test site in the protected waters of Scapa Flow, Orkney.
The archipelago of the Orkney Islands lies north of mainland Scotland. Based there, EMEC has been a major hub for wave and tidal power generation since its inception in 2003.
EMEC’s Managing Director, Neil Kermode, said, “It’s been great to see Waveswing deploy, survive, and work on our test sites this year.”
“We know there is a tremendous amount of energy in the oceans around the UK, and indeed in the oceans around the world,” continued Kermode. “It is really exciting to see Scottish companies making such progress in harvesting this truly sustainable energy.”
Despite the promise of ocean energy, the footprint of wave and current projects remains very small compared to other renewables.
According to data released in March 2022, Ocean Energy Europe said 2.2 megawatts of tidal current capacity was installed in Europe last year, compared to just 260 kilowatts in 2020.
For wave energy, 681 kW was installed, a three-fold increase according to OEE. Globally, 1.38 MW of wave energy will come online in 2021 and 3.12 MW of tidal current capacity will be installed.
By way of comparison, Europe has installed 17.4 gigawatts of wind capacity in 2021, according to figures from industry group WindEurope.