Wave power specialist Mocean Energy has unveiled its Blue X wave energy prototype, due to undergo sea trials in Orkney next month.
The 20m long, 38-tonne wave machine has been fabricated wholly in Scotland and will be deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre’s Scapa Flow test site for sea trials initially, and then later deployed at EMEC’s large scale Billia Croo test site this summer. The plan is then next year to connect the device to a subsea battery which will be used to power a remotely operated autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).
The manufacture and testing programme for the projeect is supported by £3.3 million from Wave Energy Scotland (WES) through its Novel Wave Energy Converter programme.
“This is a significant milestone for Mocean Energy and for WES,” said WES Managing Director Tim Hurst. “The product of five years of the WES programme and three phases of development for the Mocean technology that has seen the Blue X progress from concept, through wave tank testing and now to a scaled, real sea demonstrator.
“Against the backdrop of Covid 19 restrictions Mocean Energy and their subcontractors have completed build of the prototype. The focus is now on commissioning and the learning to be gained from the open water test campaign.
“This demonstration of credible wave technology comes at a time when there is a real prospect of a market support mechanism for marine energy, that taken together, will enable wave energy to make a significant contribution to the future Scottish and UK low carbon energy mix needed to meet our net zero obligations.”
The Blue X will now undergo ballasting and wet testing at Rosyth before being transported to Orkney.
Commenting on the project Mocean Energy Managing Director Cameron McNatt said: “As we drive toward net zero, we will need many forms of renewable energy and wave energy can make a significant contribution.
“Our test programme in Orkney will allow us to prove our concept at sea, particularly that its novel hull shapes will produce more power than traditional raft designs. This enables the development of commercial scale technologies suited to the oil and gas and other industries.”
Last month Mocean Energy announced a £1.6 million project with OGTC, oil major Chrysaor (now newly formed Harbour Energy) and subsea specialists EC-OG and Modus to demonstrate the potential of the Blue X prototype to power a subsea battery and a remote underwater vehicle – using onshore testing at EC-OG’s Aberdeen facility.
“We have a number of months in the summer to put the Blue X through sea trails, and in parallel test the subsea equipment at EC-OG’s home base,” McNatt said. “Next year we intend to ship the battery and AUV to Orkney and pair them up with Blue X at sea.
“We are extremely fortunate to have the backing of Wave Energy Scotland, OGTC and our industry partners in this programme. They bring an extraordinary amount of knowledge and experience which we can draw on to accelerate our technology development ambitions.”
The Blue X wave machine has been fabricated in Scotland by Fife fabricator AJS Production and painted by Montrose-based Rybay Corrosion services. Numerous hardware and services were supplied by companies who have developed capabilities though the WES programme, including Supply Design, based in Rosyth, and Blackfish Engineering Design.