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Bringing wave power to Portugal

AW-Energy’s WaveRoller technology is able to generate energy in a wider range of conditions than any other wave energy solution, even at locations with long wave periods and strong swells.

AW-Energy’s unique, patented WaveRoller technology promises to be one of most exciting approaches in the quest for harnessing the power of the oceans, the world’s largest untapped source of energy.

Ocean energy offers immense potential for anyone with the right technology, as estimates indicate that approx. 2 terawatts – or around double current world electricity output – could be produced from the oceans using wave energy.

WaveRoller is the first solution to harness the surge phenomenon that occurs near the sea bottom at intermediate depths close to shore. Hinged panels anchored to the ocean floor rock back and forth with the motion of the water, and the resulting kinetic energy is collected by a hydraulic ram and converted into electricity by a hydraulic motor/generator system or harnessed for desalination purposes.

The environmental and visual impact of the technology is minimal. Designed to be installed 10 to 25 metres below the surface, a WaveRoller unit will not hinder the natural movement of the water significantly or generate any noise audible on the surface or onshore.

Commercial-scale units will be rated in the MW class, and the plan is to deploy WaveRollers in modules, making it easy to build large generation units. Software solutions have been developed for micro-siting modules and AW-Energy is looking to participate in site development activities in Europe, the Americas, and Australia.

AW-Energy’s WaveRoller technology exploits what is known as the surge phenomenon. This strong, ubiquitous, and consistent natural phenomenon is present in all of the world’s oceans.

First wave farm soon ready to rock and roll

Following successful prototype operations, work is now under way on a 300 kW WaveRoller demonstration unit off the Portuguese coast at Peniche.

Known as SURGE (Simple Underwater Renewable Generation of Electricity), the project is funded in part by the EU and has attracted various industrial heavyweights such as Metso Automation, Bosch-Rexroth, and ABB.

The unit will be based on three 100 kW modules. The machine rooms for these were assembled and tested in Finland before being shipped to Portugal in December 2011 for deployment in spring 2012. The panels for the modules were manufactured locally, and onshore infrastructure for the plant is located on land leased from the local municipality.

The plant’s Power Take Off (PTO) system scored very well in its final bench test, which covered a number of different wave states, with output capacity proving far higher than expected. These positive results have attracted the interest of several utilities, including previous collaborators and new potential partners.

WaveRoller technology is being studied as a possibility for a French project being developed by Finnish utility Fortum and French-based advanced technology group, DCN S, for example, following the signing of a letter of intent on wave power R&D by the two companies.

> Mikael Martikainen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2013)