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Tuesday, 05 September 2023 16:21

Mocean Energy lands £3 million for next generation wave machine

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Wave energy pioneers Mocean Energy have secured over £3 million EU funding to develop and deploy a 250kW wave machine in Orkney.

  • EuropeWave funding for 250 kW wave machine
  • Orkney at-sea installation to commence in 2025
  • Machine to be built in Scotland
  • Paves the way to wave array in UK waters

The large-scale wave energy device – named Blue Horizon 250 – will be manufactured in Scotland and will be deployed in a grid-connected berth at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney as early as 2025.

It’s hoped the project could then pave the way to a small wave farm delivering 1-2 MW of low carbon electricity by 2030.

The Edinburgh firm has been awarded £3.2 million (€3,749,405) in Phase 3 of EuropeWave, a pre-commercial procurement programme, funded through the EU and managed in collaboration with Wave Energy Scotland, the Basque Energy Agency and Ocean Energy Europe.

Mocean Energy is one of three wave companies to have been awarded funds in Phase 3, each of which has successfully passed through competitive stage gates in Phases 1 and 2 of the programme.

The other successful companies are IDOM Consulting and CETO Wave Energy Ireland, who will install their devices at the Biscay Marine Energy Platform (BiMEP) in northern Spain.

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“This is a major milestone for Mocean Energy,” states company co-founder and Managing Director Cameron McNatt.

“We have already demonstrated our technology successfully at small scale and this programme will allow us to build a significantly larger machine based on our proven hinged raft design, and incorporate our novel direct drive generator.

“We are already working with a range of supply chain partners across Scotland and the UK who bring tremendous experience and professionalism to the wave energy sector, and I am confident we have the right suppliers on board to bring this ambitious project to fruition.

“Innovation funding is crucial for early-stage technologies, and I am grateful to EuropeWave for this support which will help leverage the additional private investment this project will require.

“Looking further ahead, our goal is to deliver a small array in UK waters this decade, and I am confident that with appropriate innovation funding in place we can realise our ambition to build commercial wave energy arrays and generate home-grown green energy from our seas, both in the UK and around the world,” McNatt says.

Mocean Energy is already a key participant in the £2million Renewables for Subsea Power (RSP) programme which has connected Mocean’s 10kW Blue X wave energy prototype with a Halo underwater battery system developed by Aberdeen intelligent energy management specialists Verlume.

The two technologies are currently in the seas off Orkney where they are delivering low carbon power and communication to infrastructure including Baker Hughes’ subsea controls equipment and a resident underwater autonomous vehicle (AUV) provided by Transmark Subsea. The programme has been supported by industry partners alongside the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC).

Blue Horizon 250 will be a significant scale up from Blue X and is designed for commercial applications on islands and remote communities, while also including early grid projects and off-grid applications, such as oil and gas and aquaculture.

The Blue X prototype was built in Scotland with around 80 percent local supply chain content, and it is anticipated Blue Horizon will deliver similar levels of local work. In March, Mocean Energy selected Aberdeen-based TEXO Engineering and Fabrication as its preferred fabrication, assembly and load-out contractor for its future wave energy convertors.

The deployment and demonstration of the Blue X at EMEC was funded by Wave Energy Scotland (WES) and supported by Interreg North-West Europe’s Ocean DEMO project.

Tim Hurst, Managing Director of WES said:

“With their Blue X prototype deployed in Scapa Flow, Mocean Energy proved their technology had the right cost, performance and reliability to deliver commercial wave energy. 

“The RSP project has successfully demonstrated the technology in a specific oil and gas application, and now phase 3 of EuropeWave will demonstrate that the technology can scale up and ultimately be deployed in sufficient numbers to make a significant contribution to our net zero targets. 

“The EuropeWave project itself has shown that effective collaboration between European public funders in a structured and competitive programme can accelerate technology development and deliver outcomes to an internationally recognised standard.”

Neil Kermode, EMEC’s Managing Director, said:

“Mocean Energy first came to Orkney in June 2021 with the testing of their Blue X prototype on our scale test site in Scapa Flow for a five month test campaign gaining initial operational experience in real-sea conditions

“We’re delighted to see Mocean secure this funding and continue the next steps in their development journey in Orkney which will see them deploy at our grid-connected test site at Billia Croo. This perfectly illustrates the importance of facilities and services that enable practical demonstration and allows learning by doing.”   

Phase 3 will involve the detail design, a full-scale build, and 12 months at-sea testing of a first-of-a-kind wave energy converter (WEC) at EMEC, leading to technology readiness level TRL6/7 (TRL1-9 scale). Focus areas will include:

  • Building a novel power take-off system (PTO) at full-scale – combining a Vernier Hybrid Machine (VHM) with an associated linkage mechanism to boost energy yield/mass;
  • Exporting power to the grid – ensuring grid compatibility and compliance;
  • Meeting targets set across IEA-OES evaluation areas, and improving across power performance, availability, reliability, and survivability in particular;
  • Refining costs and our commercial roadmap - ensuring follow up projects exist that are viable and attractive to customers and end-users;

To complete the full-scale 250 kW Blue Horizon programme, Mocean will bring in private funding as required.

“The EuropeWave programme is a vital catalyst to build confidence in the industry and accelerate the technology towards commercialisation,” McNatt concludes.

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