As interest in climate technology surges, wave energy is finally having its moment in the sun. Or the water.
Last month Mocean Energy unveiled its Blue X wave energy prototype that will take to the seas in Orkney in a matter of days. The 20-metre long, 38-tonne wave machine is a pre-cursor to two wave energy technologies: Blue Horizon, designed to generate grid-scale electricity, and Blue Star, a smaller machine that will power a range of subsea equipment, inspection and maintenance systems. Both technologies are based on the same concept – a hinged raft with a unique geometry that improves performances by up to 300 percent compared to traditional hinged rafts and increases survivability by diving through the largest waves.
The prototype was fabricated wholly in Scotland and will be deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre’s Scapa Flow test site for sea trials initially, and then later deployed at EMEC’s large scale Billia Croo test site this summer.
Next year, the wave pioneers plan to connect the device to a subsea battery that will be used to power a remotely operated autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).
The prototype is the product of five years of a Wave Energy Scotland program and three phases of development that has seen the Blue X progress from concept through wave tank testing and now to a scaled but real sea demonstrator. The focus is now on commissioning and the learning to be gained from the open water test campaign. The Blue X will undergo ballasting and wet testing at Rosyth before being transported to Orkney.
“Our test programme in Orkney will allow us to prove our concept at sea, particularly that its novel hull shapes will produce more power than traditional raft designs,” said Mocean Energy Managing Director Cameron McNatt. This enables the development of commercial scale technologies suited to the oil and gas and other industries.”
Last month Mocean Energy announced a £1.6 million project with OGTC, oil major Chrysaor (now newly formed Harbour Energy) and subsea specialists EC-OG and Modus to demonstrate the potential of the Blue X prototype to power a subsea battery and a remote underwater vehicle – using onshore testing at EC-OG’s Aberdeen facility.
“We have a number of months in the summer to put the Blue X through sea trails, and in parallel test the subsea equipment at EC-OG’s home base,” McNatt said. “Next year we intend to ship the battery and AUV to Orkney and pair them up with Blue X at sea.
The Blue X wave machine has been fabricated in Scotland by Fife fabricator AJS Production and painted by Montrose-based Rybay Corrosion services. Numerous hardware and services were supplied by companies who have developed capabilities though the WES programme, including Supply Design and Blackfish Engineering Design.
The Blue Star wave energy converter will provide reliable renewable energy to power a range of sub-sea applications – from subsea control systems to ROVs and fully autonomous underwater vehicles. Its compact design – which fits in a 40ft shipping container – will utilise a robust magnetic-geared power take-off to charge onboard batteries and provide continual power and communications to a range of existing and emerging subsea technologies. Blue Star has secured the support of Scottish Enterprise and the EU’s MARINET programme and our 10th-scale prototype will undergo testing at the world-leading wave energy test facility at Centrale Nantes in France in autumn 2019. This will pave the way for larger-scale testing at sea in 2021-22.
Blue Horizon is Mocean’s utility-scale machine, designed to deliver reliable green energy to transmission networks around the world. The Blue Horizon prototype will utilize a purpose-built power take-off generator, C-GEN, designed and built by Edinburgh University.