Scottish wave power start-up Mocean Energy has put its first wave energy conversion prototype, called Blue X, to sea at a test site at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.
The company said on Monday that the 20-metre long, 38-tonne wave machine had been towed from Kirkwall, the largest town in Orkney, to EMEC’s Scapa Flow test site where it had been successfully moored and commissioned for initial sea trials.
Mocean’s wave energy conversion technology is based on a “hinged raft” design that can be deployed at a grid-scale – called Blue Horizon – or on a smaller-scale, called Blue Star. The Orkney pilot was to use a half-scale version of the Blue Star model.
Mocean said that after an initial trial at the Scapa site, the Blue X would “later this summer” be moved to EMEC’s grid connected wave test site at Billia Croo on the island’s west coast, where it would be exposed to more rigorous conditions.
In the Scapa testing phase, the company is expected to test power production and compare results against numerical predictions, and test operations including towing, installation, removal, and access at sea. A 4G connection would allow the team to send commands and download data from shore.
“This is a very exciting moment as we put our first prototype to test at sea,” said Mocean managing director Cameron McNatt in a statement on Monday.
“In the days and weeks ahead, we will produce first power and prove how the Blue X machine operates in a variety of sea states.
“We believe our technology is ideally suited to a number of offshore operations, where it can make a direct contribution to net zero goals. Longer-term, we think grid-scale machines will be able to tap into deep ocean waves to generate significant quantities of clean energy.”
Neil Kermode, the managing director at the EMEC said the team at the Centre was eager to see how Mocean’s technology fared in the “initially gentle wave climate at Scapa” before progressing to the next stage sea trials at Billia Croo.
“This successful operation is the culmination of many weeks of hard work and planning by Mocean Energy, EMEC and Leask Marine,” Kermode said.
Mocean Energy has also been conducting 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.