New platform for wind as well as wave energy
Swansea-based wave energy technology developer Marine Power Systems (MPS) has revealed plans to develop floating offshore devices to be used to generate both wind and wave energy.
MPS is in the final stages of development of its wave energy device, WaveSub, designed to generate energy by harnessing the continual motion of waves beneath the sea. The company has stated that it wants to see large undersea wave farms being built at sea from 2020, increasing as demand for clean power grows.
Following months of trials of WaveSub in the FaBTest area in Falmouth Bay, the stability of the 1:4 scale test device in deep water has prompted MPS to explore its suitability for use as a floating platform for wind turbines. Early tests revealed that WaveSub offered a strong, stable platform on which a turbine could be installed, enabling it to be adapted to be both a floating wind turbine and wave energy device. MPS has two further devices under development: DualSub captures both wave and wind energy, and WindSub captures wind energy only.
Some two thirds of the UK's offshore windfarms are located in the comparatively shallow North Sea waters where fixed base turbines are easily installed. MPS's floating devices are expected to open up new areas off the western coastline where wind speeds are higher but the water is too deep for the economic installation of wind turbine monopiles.
In the waters off Cornwall the wave generator tests have included tow tests, submergence tests, installation of the mooring system, and assembly and commissioning of the power buoy. The final structures, designed to be submerged in waters 10km offshore, will be 100 metre long units each generating 5 megawatts, sufficient to power some 5,000 homes, similar to the output of a very large offshore wind turbine.
Having been successfully tested at 1:4 scale, and now under development at full scale, MPS’s WaveSub project has been financed through public and private investment including WEFO (European Regional Development Funds) and Innovate UK.
MPS’s plan to expand into the offshore wind sector follows news that the UK’s offshore wind output increased by 28 per cent in 2018, while the Government-backed Offshore Wind Deal commits to providing 30 per cent of the UK’s electricity from offshore wind by 2030.
By Graeme Ewens
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