Wave and tidal energy projects have been moving forward globally, in spite of the ongoing pandemic. International Water Power & Dam Construction magazine rounds up the latest developments from the industry.


Wave and tidal energy developments have been progressing in earnest throughout the world over the past few months, with many projects hitting important milestones – whether that be gaining new funding, completing testing or launching equipment.

CorPower Ocean for example has been making strides in projects in Portugal. In early July it was announced that the company is investing €16m into a R&D, manufacturing and service centre for wave energy converters (WECs) in Viana do Castelo, northern Portugal.

The location was chosen to support its flagship demonstration project HiWave-5, and for the long-term development of supply and service capacity for commercial wave energy farms.

Several factors have contributed to choosing Viana do Castelo for this investment, says CorPower.

A strong-competence pool of engineers from adjacent sectors such as offshore wind, composite manufacturing and shipyards, top-level universities and industrial infrastructure including ports and grid connection allow effective upscaling of operations in the region.


CorPower’s HiWave-5 project in Portugal

Portugal also presents an ideal environment for HiWave-5 due to its natural assets and environmental consciousness.

Grid operator REN recently installed a new offshore cable servicing floating wind, and there is significant commercial interest from utilities and project developers for next-generation wave-project development.

“This is a crucial stage in our pursuit to develop a new class of high-efficiency wave energy converters,” says Patrik Möller, CEO of CorPower Ocean. “Our goal is to successfully introduce certified and warrantied WEC products to the market by 2024, making wave energy a bankable technology that can attract mainstream renewable project finance.

“Wave energy can play a fundamental role in Portugal’s transition to 100% renewable energy, while providing a platform to drive Portuguese exports and long-term investment opportunities for local supply chains.

“The HiWave-5 program is recognised as one of the most ambitious efforts in ocean energy. The arrival of HiWave-5 is set to reinforce Portugal’s reputation as a world leader in renewable energy, with significant investment in people, technology and facilities.”

CorPower and port authority APDL – Administração dos Portos do Douro, Leixões and Viana do Castelo – have reached an agreement to develop the ocean energy facility within the commercial port of Viana do Castelo. It will provide space for the fabrication, assembly and servicing of commercial-scale wave energy converters.

CorPower will be contributing to the local blue-tech cluster and maritime-related value chains. Around 15 highly-qualified engineering jobs are planned for the next three years, covering composite design and manufacturing, mechanical, electrical, control and marine operations.

The company has also announced it has secured €9m in equity funding, with the proceeds to be used to demonstrate the first commercial-scale WEC within the HiWave-5 project, as well as to support the long-term development of supply and service capacity for commercial wave energy farms.

The equity funding, which is combined with public investments that co-fund the programme, will support CorPower’s pan-European efforts in Sweden, Portugal, Scotland and Norway.

The funding round was led by Midroc New Technology, with additional investment from ALMI Invest Greentech, EIT InnoEnergy and a group of private investors.

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CorPower’s ocean wave energy converter (Credit: CorPower)

“This funding package marks another significant milestone in the firm’s mission to introduce a new class of certified and warrantied WEC products,” says Möller. “We are pleased to see continued strong support from investors who share our vision of bringing reliable and competitive wave energy technology to the world, unlocking one of the largest untapped sources of clean energy on earth.”

The HiWave-5 demonstration project aims to convert CorPower’s wave technology into a bankable product by 2024, by proving the survivability, performance and economics of a grid-connected array of WECs in northern Portugal. This will unlock mainstream renewable project financing for commercial-array projects developed by its customers, the company says.


Wave and tidal energy projects in Wales

In Wales, a first-of-its-kind, full-scale “cell module” made its way to the assembly workshop in mid-July. This marked a milestone for Bombora’s 1.5 megawatt (MW) mWave Pembrokeshire Demonstration Project, which will be installed off the coast of Pembrokeshire in the first half of 2021.

This cell is the first of four structures that form Bombora’s 75m-long, subsea mWave. The patented cell module presents a step change from previous approaches to wave energy capture.

Each cell module will be covered in a robust rubber membrane. As waves pass over mWave, under-water pressure increases, causing the rubber membranes to compress in sequence, forcing air inside the membranes along a duct and through a turbine, spinning a generator converting this rotation into electricity.

Bombora moved operations from Australia to Pembroke Dock in 2017 to be part of Wales’ burgeoning marine energy industry.

In other Welsh developments, the Pembroke Dock Marine Swansea Bay City Deal project was given the green light by the UK and Welsh governments in June 2020. The multi-million-pound marine energy project is being developed to create a world-class centre for marine engineering, and is expected to create more than 1,800 jobs in the next 15 years.

The project is made up of four elements which include:

  • The Marine Energy Test Area (META) within the Milford Haven Waterway led by Marine Energy Wales, enabling technology developers to test their marine energy devices close to their base of operation.
  • The largest facility of its kind in the world, a 90 square-kilometre Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone delivered by Wave Hub Limited that will enable the deployment of future energy generating technologies, including floating wind.
  • Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence – a technology, innovation and research centre delivered by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.
  • Redevelopment of land at Pembroke Dock, led by the Port of Milford Haven, to deliver the infrastructure needed by the industry as it continues to mature.


Earlier in May 2020, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Scotland, signed an agreement with Marine Energy Wales to provide further support to the Marine Energy Test Area in Pembrokeshire.

META consists of eight pre-consented, non-grid-connected sites located in and around the Milford Haven Waterway, which de-risk the development of marine energy projects by providing the opportunity to test scaled devices, sub-assemblies and components.

The sites are accessible yet still representative of real sea environments. Phase 1 of the project was launched in September 2019.

EMEC will now support the implementation of META’s processes and procedures to ensure safe and efficient operation of the facility, providing guidance on accident incident investigation, developer lifecycle, data acquisition, permitting, consenting, installation, and decommissioning.

The UK has led the world in developing ocean energy, with Scotland and Wales at the front of this charge,” says said Rob Flynn, EMEC’s commercial manager.

“Demonstration facilities like EMEC and META are key innovation hubs for progressing the sector. EMEC has been operating for almost two decades, so we have a lot of knowledge on what to do, and what not to do, that we can share with META as it gets off the ground.

“By working together we can help accelerate this industry and support the UK and the world in reaching its net-zero targets.”


Funding for new projects via Wave Energy Scotland

Wave Energy Scotland (WES) has recently awarded £1.4m to four projects developing quick connection systems to improve the installation efficiency and infrastructure of wave power devices.

From the seven Stage 1 projects, four have come through the WES Stage Gate process to secure Stage 2 contracts in the Quick Connection Systems programme.

The European Marine Energy Centre is partnering on two of the successful projects, one led by Quoceant and the other by Apollo.

Quoceant’s Q-Connect is a set of modular subsystems that can be combined in different configurations to provide quick, safe, and low-cost mechanical and electrical connection and disconnection for wave and tidal energy devices and projects.

The “hands-free” system can cater for slack and taut moored devices on the surface or sub-sea. Led by Quoceant, the Stage 2 funding of nearly £350,000 will see further design and analysis of the system supported by output from detailed numerical simulation of key operations.

The project brings together an expert team of engineers, marine operational specialists and commercial expertise from leading marine companies including, EMEC, Inyanga Maritime, Mocean, AWS Ocean Energy and SMD.

EMEC’s main role in the project is to assess compliance with electrical, mooring and environmental standards and provide third-party review of functional and operational specifications. EMEC will also take part in the technical advisory group and will support on the commercial side of the project, identifying potential routes to market.

Apollo’s Pull and Lock Marine (PALM) connector uses a passive locking mechanism that provides the connection and load transfer between the wave energy converter and its moorings.

The core innovation is the design of a formed plug component and catcher arm. This function is purely mechanical and requires only the input of a suitable deck winch on the installation vessel.

In this project, EMEC has been brought in to share environmental site data and provide third- party reviews around health and safety, and marine operations.


Further innovation in Scotland

The other two successful systems in the Wave Energy Scotland call are being designed by Blackfish Engineering Design and Nova Innovation.

Blackfish Engineering Design’s C-DART provides a remote-installation system for a WEC or other floating system. The novel system allows quick connection and disconnection of a WEC to an offshore buoy, providing both a mechanical mooring and electrical connection.

Nova Innovation’s MECmate is a wet-mate connection solution specifically designed for marine energy converters (MECs). The project builds on its proven NovaCan technology currently in operation in Nova’s Shetland tidal array.

Nova Innovation is working on tidal and marine energy projects with Wave Energy Scotland (Credit: Twitter/Nova Innovation)

“This programme will develop technology that will reduce the cost of wave and tidal energy and ultimately help marine energy play a part in Scotland’s net-zero future,” says Tim Hurst, managing director of WES.

“Connecting and disconnecting devices quickly and remotely will increase safety in offshore operations, and the wider potential for these technologies is significant across offshore and subsea applications.”

The overall aim of the quick connection systems programme is to reduce the duration, cost and risk of offshore operation for wave energy convertors by supporting projects to design and develop quick connection and disconnection systems between devices and moorings and/or electrical systems.

The teams aim to develop their designs during the second stage of the programme, working with partners to test and model the technology prior to scale testing in the future.

This is the latest-stage gate-funding process in the WES programme, which is fully funded by the Scottish government.

“This announcement represents an important step forward for Scotland’s world-leading wave energy sector,” says Scottish energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse. “We believe that wave energy offers tremendous economic potential and can play an important role in Scotland’s response to the global climate emergency.

“I am immensely proud of the progress being made under our Wave Energy Scotland programme, which is by far the largest of its kind in the world. I congratulate all the successful teams under this funding call and look forward to seeing further progress from these projects in the months to come.”


Orbital decommissions floating turbine following successful test run

In mid-August, it was announced that Orbital Marine Power (Orbital), working with Thompsons of Prudhoe and Port of Blyth, has decommissioned its prototype 2MW SR2000 floating tidal turbine. Heavy-lift specialists Mammoet managed the tandem lift of the 516-tonne structure out of the water and onto the Blyth quayside in what was the port’s largest heavy lift to date.

Orbital is reclaiming key components and elements of the turbine to carry out engineering inspections, with the remainder of the structure to be dismantled for recycling and disposal. The unit was towed from Orkney to the Northumberland facility by Leask Marine using the C-Odyssey vessel.

The final phase of the full-scale demonstration project follows a hugely-successful test programme which saw more than 3,250 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity generated by the SR2000 at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.

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Orbital began decommissioning of its SR200 floating tidal turbine (Credit: Orbital Marine)

Building on the success of the SR2000, Orbital is currently in the process of manufacturing its 2MW O2 turbine to replace the SR2000 at EMEC early next year. The O2 incorporates key innovations and lessons from the SR2000 that, on a like-for-like basis, will enable a 35% improvement in yield at EMEC.

Speaking about the end of the programme, Orbital CEO Andrew Scott says: “The SR2000 was an industry breakthrough, and its success is a testimony to the team who engineered, built and operated it.

“Not only did it validate the conceptual benefits of our floating tidal solution, but it re-set the performance bar for the sector. A truly outstanding platform for us to be building on with our new O2 turbine. I would also like to thank Thompsons of Prudhoe and Port of Blyth for planning and executing the decommissioning of the SR2000 with precision and professionalism.”

Nick Shilling, managing director of Thompsons of Prudhoe, adds: “We are delighted to be given the opportunity to decommission the SR2000 on behalf of Orbital Marine Power. This project gives us a strong platform to demonstrate and promote our capabilities to the offshore industry for all future onshore dismantling and waste disposal requirements.”


EMEC partners in Korea to develop new tidal energy projects

In July, it was announced that the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) has contracted EMEC to support the development of its tidal energy projects test site at Jang-Juk Strait, near Jindo Island, Korea.

The signed agreement strengthens the relationship between the two organisations, and sees EMEC use its experience and knowledge as a tidal test site operator to advance the Korean test site development.

KIOST is developing a grid-connected tidal energy test site development on the Jang-Juk Strait offshore southwestern Korea. The Korea Tidal Current Energy Centre (K-TEC) site, which will have a 4.5MW grid capacity, is expected to be operational by 2022.

Having managed the design, build and operation of its four marine test facilities over the last seventeen years in Orkney, EMEC has been contracted to deliver technical support to KIOST.

An EMEC technical report will review operational elements of the test-site design, including the cable layout, protection, and maintenance as well as data acquisition and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems, electrical infrastructure, and grid connection.

As the KIOST site is a new development, EMEC will also assess the likelihood of any environmental impacts associated with tidal energy projects on the marine ecosystem and provide guidance on environmental monitoring strategies for use at the site.

“The K-TEC facility is an important development for the tidal sector, and proof of its growing commercial readiness and expansion beyond Europe,” explains EMEC commercial manager Rob Flynn.

“KIOST and Korea have incredibly strong background in ocean science and engineering, and it’s encouraging to see them bring that to the tidal energy sector. Enabling marine energy globally is at the core of what we do at EMEC.

“We’re happy to bring our experience of operating test sites to bear on this project and help make it a success. I’m really excited to see how this facility develops, and we wish great success for our friends at KIOST.”

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Illustration of the K-TEC tidal energy projects site (Credit: KIOST)

Dr Jin-Soon Park, director of coastal development and Ocean Energy Research Center, at the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, says: “I am very pleased that EMEC, which has been operating a marine energy test sites since 2003, and KIOST, which has been conducting tidal-energy research since 2001, have been promoting joint research on the K-TEC construction for tidal-energy development.

“The convergence of EMEC’s know-how and KIOST’s design technology will make the K-TEC facility a safer and more effective tidal energy converter test site. In addition, it is expected that K-TEC will be able to revitalise the tidal energy industry in Korea and in Asia as well.”


Tidal energy projects accelerate in New York City

Verdant Power announced in August that it has successfully taken additional steps toward the installation of an array of its three, fifth-generation (Gen5) tidal power turbines on the company’s novel TriFrame mount at its Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project site in New York City’s East River.

The turbines were transported from the company’s New Jersey marine-engineering support services facility, where they were assembled, to a marine-vessel installation-services area, where they have been integrated onto a Verdant Power TriFrame mount in preparation for on-water delivery and deployment at the RITE Project site.

In addition, the RITE Project Control Room on Roosevelt Island is being readied for the turbine system installation, which is planned for autumn 2020.

A New York-based company, Verdant Power plans to install three of its fifth generation Free Flow System turbines on a single TriFrame mount in the East River. This will be the pre-commercial phase of the RITE Project to design its tidal turbine, optimise the economics of installation and maintenance of arrays, and prove performance.

“This is the final pre-commercialisation phase in a process that has seen 23 government agencies approve work on the RITE Project,” says Verdant Power CEO John Banigan. “We are proud to have been the first licensed tidal power project in the US.

“Our focus is on maximising system power performance, increasing availability and reliability, and reducing project capex and operating costs. The RITE Project not only will demonstrate clean power from the tidal currents, but also will demonstrate tidal power as a viable energy resource advancing our industry in the US and globally.”

The RITE Project site will generate electricity under a hydrokinetic pilot-project licence issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – the first commercial licence to have been issued for a tidal power project in the US.

The RITE Project has been supported by NYSERDA (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) and the US Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, in addition to New York-based private equity capital support.


This article originally appeared in International Water Power & Dam Construction (IWP&DC) magazine