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Wave Energy Technical Lecture - Nov 2016

This was a Technical lecture given by Dr George Aggidis of Lancaster University on the current state of the Wave Energy industry and future developments. The Renewable Energy Group at Lancaster (LUREG) has long being associated with developments in Wave Energy Converters which offer a predictable and consistent source of renewable energy.

The talk started by describing the potential energy that could be captured using WEC devices. Worldwide this represents about 2000 to 4000 Twh/year. In terms of wave power density measured in Kwh/metre the UK is extremely well placed to harness over 50 Twh/year. Dr Aggidis explained the various devices used categorised as shore line, near shore and offshore and the dynamics of capturing the energy.

Shoreline devices such as LIMPET in Scotland and the PICO system in Portugal utilise an oscillating water column. The LIMPET system has attracted commercial interest with the involvement of Siemens/Voith.

Near shore devices in depths of up to 40m include WRASPA, Wave Roller and the OSPREY Oscillator. The latter pressurises a piston which is connected to an onshore generator.

For Off shore (depths >40M) PELAMIS, Wave Dragon and various other devices offer promising results.
Hybrid technology incorporating both wind and wave energy are also being considered.
Lancaster University have been involved in the development of many of these devices and have invested in software and facilities including ocean energy and turbine test facilities.

The talk described the barriers to future development. Due to limited commercial experience with small scale converters, the cost of wave power energy is currently high although economies of scale will clearly reduce this cost considerably. A lot of investment is going into the power take off systems which represents over 20% of the costs. Synergies with other offshore industries are being explored to reduce installation and O&M costs. The development of a supply chain similar to wind turbines is necessary.

It was noted that up to now the UK has been ahead of the game with wave energy within Europe. However large corporations and other countries such as Australia, USA and Japan are moving into the sector. This has resulted in additional research programmes and introduction of new technology. Within the UK, indecision from the government in recent years on energy policy has resulted in an uncertain future for the technology.

After a short Q&A session the meeting finished with the presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation to Dr Aggidis for an excellent presentation and discussion. Glyndwr University was also thanked for hosting this event.

Gareth Cemlyn Jones 20th November 2016 

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