While wave power is a promising renewable source, the environmental and economic challenges posed by wave power generation have meant that very few companies have successfully implemented this technology. Now Simply Blue Energy has partnered with Sweden’s CorPower Ocean to develop wave energy projects on the coasts of the UK and Ireland with expectations that could turn things around.
CorPower Ocean’s commercial director, Anders Jansson, believes the partnership has an answer to this problem: “The main reason wave energy projects have not been commercially viable is because they have generally been too expensive, and eliminating that cost is the reason we believe we can succeed. We have developed technical innovations that allow our wave technology to survive large storms and amplify motion without any control system. We are extremely aware of the difficult climate, and we know that a fundamental thing for wave energy to work is to have the physics on your side. This is important in our operations, and that’s why we and Simply Blue believe this can work,” he explains.
Simply Blue CEO Sam Roch-Perks is confident that the technology is up to the task: “We have worked with the CorPower team for the past two and a half years and, during this time, they have convinced us that they have the ability to bring their technology to the required levels of technical readiness within the timeframes we have agreed.
CorPower’s main innovation in wave energy is its Wave Energy Converters (WEC), a buoy-based technology inspired by the pumping action of the human heart. It uses stored pressure to generate energy from the waves in two directions. According to the company, this bi-directional generation allows the system to produce five times more power than traditional wave technology with a smaller, cheaper device. WEC also has a storm protection mode, which improves its survivability and reduces maintenance costs.
However, Jansson points out that wave energy projects face logistical and organizational constraints that can affect the speed of their development.
“There are a number of constraints. One is political: that side of things needs consultation, time and access to information. The UK has a very transparent process for getting that information, but it still takes time, which limits how fast it can scale. Then we have the problem of funding. One of the main reasons why we have not seen the commercialisation of wave energy so far is that we have not really worked as an industry to understand the financial side of energy projects. We need to demonstrate that this is a reliable technology that can be profitable.