Currently these devices are predominantly made from steel , which is strong and durable but costly and susceptible to corrosion.
Alternative materials have not yet been sufficiently investigated for their longevity in harsh marine conditions. Finding a material that works well in the sea and is cheaper to produce will increase commercial viability of converters.
The WES funded Structural Materials and Manufacturing Process (SMMP) projects will investigate the use of materials such as rubbers, plastics, concrete or combinations of these to build wave energy converters, and then test how well they survive in different sea conditions.
This latest announcement from WES brings the total investment by the organisation in wave energy development to £15 million across 51 projects in less than two years.
Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse said: “Continued innovation is vital in emerging renewable technologies such as wave energy. This funding could result in longer lasting wave converters that are better able to harness the power of the sea and more efficiently turn it into renewable energy.
“Wave energy has great potential to contribute to Scotland’s energy supply and that of the UK and EU and I am aware of the strong interest in the technology in international markets beyond the EU too. If we are able to maximise the economic potential of this important energy resource, there are great opportunities to generate exports to the rest of the world where Scotland is, rightly seen as being at the forefront of the development of the sector.
“I would like to congratulate the successful applicants and look forward, alongside the team of Wave Energy Scotland to seeing the results of their ongoing work.”
Tim Hurst, managing director of Wave Energy Scotland, added: “We were delighted with the huge response to our call for SMMP projects, with many new organisations submitting applications. The successful projects present a superb opportunity to bring further skills and experience that can be shared with others in the WES programmes and make further progress towards commercialising the wave energy sector.”
Wave Energy Scotland was set up as a subsidiary of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in December 2014 and is fully funded by the Scottish Government. The organisation is seen as a fresh approach to tackling the issues which have proved challenging in the wave energy sector.
Details of the ten successful SMMP projects are available at http://www.hie.co.uk/growth-sectors/energy/wave-energy-scotland/project-calls.html
Notes to Editors
These projects will complete Stage 1 of the WES technology development process, with contract costs in the region of £250k, each over 12 months. The open call received 35 compliant applications from companies and consortia located mainly in the UK. Each successful application has been awarded (subject to contract) up to 100% of the costs for their project proposals. 59% of the work in these research projects will be delivered by Scottish companies.
WES will continue to support proposals right through a series of different development stages with projects subject to a stage-gate review process in order to progress. The projects which have been successful in this call represent new or innovative methods of constructing WECs, or new ways of manufacturing the construction materials, and have a realistic prospect of delivering a commercially viable device. Metrics of affordability, reliability, survivability and performance were assessed during the extensive evaluation procedure which used experts from the UK and the US to complete the process.
WES’ first call was for power take off systems and £7 million was awarded. The second call was for novel wave energy converters with £2.25 million awarded. In September 2016, four of the companies in the original PTO call at stage 1 were awarded £2 million to progress their projects to stage 2.
Cruz Atcheson, consulting engineers, have developed a significant capability in the application of advanced materials in the wave energy sector, and as a result they are now working with several consortia as contractors in the WES programme. As a result of this, Joao Cruz has taken the decision to stand down from the WES Advisory Group to avoid any potential conflicts of interest that may result. WES would like to thank Joao for his significant contribution to WES in developing its strategy and for his work to bring together significant industrial partners to work in the WES programme.