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Wave Energy Transition to Future by Evolution of Engineering and Technology

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - WETFEET (Wave Energy Transition to Future by Evolution of Engineering and Technology)

Período documentado: 2016-11-01 hasta 2018-04-30

The WETFEET project starts from the identification and in-depth understanding of the main constraints that have been slowing down the development of wave energy to propose, study and develop a set of technology solutions to address these constraints. The following issues were identified, in the scope of WETFEET, as major obstacles to the desired success of wave energy: a) Reliability of technical components, particularly respecting to the PTO system; b) Survivability of overall system (moorings, geometry, operational philosophy); c) The long, complex and cost-intensive path towards a marketable product; d) The unclear path towards economic competitiveness, including uncertainty on support mechanisms; e) The unclear path towards industrial scalability, i.e. farms in the range of hundreds of MW. In view of their disruptive nature, the technology solutions that were proposed as a response to these issues were taken and classified in the scope of the project as ‘breakthrough features’. These breakthroughs were studied having as a reference two wave energy concepts, the OWC (Oscillating Water Column) and the Symphony, being developed by members of the consortium. Understanding the constraints and the factors that led to the current status of the wave energy sector allows seeking solutions to place the development of this important energy source (back) on track, both in Europe and beyond. The main avenues of research in the project are summarize as follows: 1) Survivability breakthrough via device submergence under storm conditions; 2) O&M (operation and maintenance) breakthrough via continuous submergence and adaption of components and strategies; 3) PTO (power take-off) breakthrough via the development of new materials for submerged polymeric PTO and the analysis and development of innovative electro-mechanic solutions; 4) Array breakthrough via sharing of mooring and electrical connections between nearby devices, as well as integral approach to device interaction and compact aggregates; 5) Increased device performance via the practical implementation and functionality of a negative spring for an OWC.
Efforts during the early stages of the project were mostly focused on a better understating of the wave energy development constraints that WETFEET tackles, on the conceptual development and preliminary engineering analysis of the breakthroughs, on the development and application of numerical codes/models and on the definition of design specifications. During the first project period, the most crucial strategical decisions of the project were established, particularly concerning methodological approaches to follow for the analysis of the potential for large-scale deployment/implementation of the breakthrough technology solutions being studied. A comprehensive methodological framework for the evaluation of the potential benefits of the breakthroughs, relying on the comparison with reference cases with no integration of breakthroughs, was developed. Tasks dedicated to testing of physical models and prototypes were initiated in the first project period and continued in the second. Techno-economic, macro-economic and environmental impact analysis of the OWC spar buoy and the Symphony devices and respective breakthroughs, for the large-scale scenario, was conducted. The benefits of the breakthroughs were assessed via the use of a normalized LCOE for two locations. Except for the DEG breakthrough (explained by the configuration of the analysis that had to be adopted in this case), all variants revealed improvements in relation to the reference case. Flexible shared moorings shown the most promising results, with LCOE reductions in the order of 20-25%. The benefits in this case were two-fold: a reduction of costs due to fewer mooring lines and anchoring points, and an improvement in energy capture resulting from array interactions. The enhanced added-mass, the negative spring and the survivability submergence variants presented similar results with improvements in the LCOE between 5 and 10%, mostly due to a reduction of the initial costs. As regards the survivability submergence, there are also improvements in the O&M costs.
The breakthrough technology solutions proposed within WETFEET to overcome the stagnation in the development of wave energy represent new and innovative ideas that are expected to provide a new impetus to technology development within the sector. As above mentioned, although these breakthroughs were developed and tested in laboratory via the integration into specific WEC concepts (the OWC and the Symphony), they are expected to be of broad application to several other concepts. The new ideas that were launched by the project will ultimately contribute to improved and less varied WEC designs.
The final configurations of the new technology solutions that will most efficiently address the current wave energy constraints and render it a valid and attractive contribution to the energy challenge in Europe and worldwide will emerge from WETFEET’s outcomes. Thanks to the stakeholders’ engagement actively sought by the consortium, the project’s results are expected to reach the energy industry at large and help providing the players with the necessary confidence to frame wave energy technology as a strategic choice to be integrated in the future energy system. It has been agreed by the consortium that, as soon as the results and the knowledge gathered from the project have been conveniently summed up and reported, a joint industry and academia workshop, open to the general audience, industry players (including supply chain), academia and other interested actors, should be organized shortly after the end of the project to present WETFEET’s results and the most promising breakthrough components and to foresee their contribution and integration into the future wave energy market. This workshop will be organized still within 2018, and the respective expenses will be covered by the coordinator’s and other consortium members’ own funds.
It is anticipated that future research focus will naturally evolve towards those breakthrough technology solutions that have proven and are proving to be more promising in tackling the related constraint. The project was designed to ensure that the new solutions did not bring out new unsolved issues in terms of technical, economic, financial, environmental, policy, regulatory and societal aspects, and that they were developed as much as possible without loss of generality, to guarantee its applicability to other types of WEC. Nonetheless, it should be noted that the scope of WETFEET was to identify/characterize the wave energy sector challenges, propose solutions and initiate its development from TRL 2 to TRL 3/4. Further development of the breakthrough features that will prove to effectively work and of the detailed processes associated to its operation is beyond the scope of the project and should be pursued by the consortium and by technology developers in the aftermath of WETFEET.
OWC wave energy device
WETFEET logo
Symphony wave energy device