Marine Hydrokinetics

University of Edinburgh opens MHK testing facility

Scottish Member of Parliament Amber Rudd helped officials from the University of Edinburgh officially open the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility in early August. The US$16 million facility, operated by a University of Ediburgh subsidiary called FloWave TT Ltd., is intended to drive academic research in marine hydrokinetics (MHK).

“Wave and tidal energy has an important part to play in our low-carbon energy mix, and the U.K. is already at the forefront of research and development in this innovative sector,” Rudd said, adding: “Testing devices in realistic ocean conditions is essential for driving this industry forward to commercial success.”

The new facility features a 25 meter-wide tank capable of simulating scaled equivalents of waves up to 28 m high and currents up to 14 knots. The tank will be used to recreate waves and currents from coastlines around the world, with an emphasis on expediting the research process compared with open-water tests.

“Its circular design means waves have no reflections and both waves and currents can come from multiple directions, to accurately mimic the real ocean environment,” FloWave Chief Executive Officer Stuart Brown said. “This means researchers and industrial partners can use the facility to develop and refine prototype devices before building and testing them full-scale for deployment in near-identical conditions at sea.”

Wave energy developer wins research grant

Australian developer Perpetuwave Power Pty Ltd. has received a US$105,000 grant to test its “Wave Harvester” technology in southeast England. The funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme and will help Perpetuwave test a scale prototype.

“The major outcome of the project is to position Perpetuwave to advance to a full-scale pilot power plant as the final step in the technology authentication phase,” Chief Executive Officer Glen Dullaway said.

The Wave Harvester uses independently operated elongated floats that move up and down via a trailing arm design from a structure located above the devices. The floats operate parallel to the wave fronts and can move backwards as well as upwards, capturing the energy in breaking waves, the company says. Fixed horizontal stabilizer plates limit rocking motion of the system, the company adds. All working components, including the generator, are located above water in a sealed environment.

The company said its newly-established office in Cornwall will work with the University of Exeter in performing the scaled tests.

Perpetuwave partnered with the University of Queensland in 2012 to develop the Wave Harvester technology.

Crown Estate awards seabed rights for ocean energy development

The UK’s Crown Estate has awarded seabed rights for six wave and tidal current demonstration zones and five wave and tidal current sites.

The six demonstration zones “for the first time will enable locally-based organizations to manage and sub-let parts of the seabed to a range of wave and tidal stream developers,” the Crown Estate said, while the five current sites each has the potential to deliver a project between 10 and 30 MW. Organizations and location of their awards are:

Wave Hub: North Cornwall and South Pembrokeshire (wave demonstration zones) and North Devon (tidal stream demonstration zone)
Siemens MCT: Dorset’s Portland Bill, Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough and Scotland’s Mull of Galloway (tidal stream project sites)
European Marine Renewable Energy Centre (EMEC): Scotland’s Isle of Harris (wave demonstration zone), Scotland’s Islay (tidal stream demonstration zone) and Scotland’s Stronsay Firth (tidal stream managed test facility project)
Mentor Mon: Wales’ West Anglesley (tidal stream demonstration zone)
Minesto: Wales’ Holyhead Deep (tidal stream project site)

The UK’s marine hydrokinetic market is potentially lucrative, projected to be worth a possible US$6.85 billion in exports by 2050.

OpenHydro to manufacture, install tidal turbines near Brittany

Irish manufacturer OpenHydro has been selected to supply two tidal turbines for installation at Paimpol-Brehat in Brittany.

OpenHydro said the announcement follows the successful testing of one of its tidal turbines in “real” conditions at the Palmpol-Brehat site between December 2013 and April 2014. “These conclusive tests demonstrated the performance of the tidal turbine… and validated the principle of the 16 meter-diameter prototype, an essential step before the deployment of pilot farms,” the company said.

OpenHydro and its partner, French utility EDF, will use the second-generation turbines to be installed at Paimpol-Brehat to demonstrate long-term reliability of the technology.

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