Work has begun on a new wave energy generator that will be put to the test in waters off Scotland’s Orkney Islands, using the technology of Edinburgh start-up Mocean Energy.
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 will use a half-scale version of the Blue Star model, which according to a 2019 presentation by the company’s co-founder and managing director Cameron McNatt, will have a 2-4kW power capacity, with a 50kWh on-board battery.
The machine – which at full scale is 30 tonnes and 20 metres long – is reportedly due to be deployed in the second half of 2020 to undergo a number of sea trials before generating its first power later in the year.
The project is being developed in partnership with AJS Production, a Scottish steel fabrication company that specialises in the renewables and oil and gas sectors – the latter of which will be the focus of Mocean’s technology in the near-term.
“While utility-scale [wave energy generation] is on our long-term horizon, our focus is on applications in O&G,” McNatt said in November.
According to the company’s website, both the Blue Horizon and Blue Star technologies are based on the same concept – a hinged raft with a unique geometry that improves performances by up to 300 per cent compared to traditional hinged rafts and increases survivability by diving through the largest waves.
“The UK oil and gas sector is exploring ways to decarbonise their operations and this technology has a range of uses in powering subsea technology,” McNatt said in comments on the Orkney project.
“Our Blue Star design has undergone rigorous numerical modelling and tank testing at the world leading wave tank at Nantes and it is very exciting to see it taking shape in steel in advance of sea trials.”
“This is a great project to be involved in and is yet another milestone in Scotland being at the forefront in leading the UK to become carbon neutral,” said AJS managing director Raymond Imrie.
“The project is well under way and although we have been involved in similar contracts, we are still learning lessons when it comes to working on prototypes of this scale.