Marine tech company enters next phase for wave energy device

Marine tech company enters next phase for wave energy device

Marine Power Systems (MPS), a UK wave power technology company based in Swansea, has unveiled its quarter-scale prototype wave energy generator the WaveSub.

The announcement comes as the marine technology firm moves into a new, sea-based test phase of its development.

The event marks a major milestone for the UK in the global race to produce wave energy at a market-competitive price.

In the last decade MPS has developed the WaveSub using over £5million of funding that it has secured through private investment and highly competitive grants.

The unveiling, which will took place at Prembroke Dock, came a few days before the WaveSub was towed to the award-winning FaBTest site in Cornwall.

Here, MPS want to demonstrate the device’s power-generation capacity across a broad range of sea states and the speed and cost-effective price at which it can be installed.

The WaveSub’s low maintenance costs and its survivability in extreme weather conditions will also be demonstrated, thereby proving the unique advantages which define this wave energy generation device. 

The WaveSub operates by capturing wave energy around 10km from shore, utilising the continual orbital motion of waves to drive a sophisticated power-take-off (PTO) system.

Similar to offshore wind, power is transferred to land with an undersea cable. At full-scale, a WaveSub device measuring 100 metres long and rated at 5MW will power approximately 5,000 homes; similar in power-output to a very large off-shore wind turbine.

Scaled up, extensive modelling shows that 100 WaveSub devices would provide a power output of 500MW – equivalent to the power needs of 500,000 homes or a city the size of San Francisco. 

One of the defining features of the WaveSub is its depth-adjustability. This enables it to ‘hide’ from storms, thereby minimising the stress put on the device.

It also ensures the WaveSub can maintain optimum energy generation levels across a broad range of sea states.

Its size, components and materials have been chosen with a view to keeping manufacturing, transport and deployment costs down.

 Dr Gareth Stockman, CEO of Marine Power Systems said: “The WaveSub is the result of nearly a decade of marine engineering expertise, research and development.

“As such MPS are confident it can bring to market a product of huge importance to both the UK and global marine energy sectors.

“With continued support and private investment, we believe the WaveSub - thanks to its unique energy capture capabilities, resilience and transportability - can bring the cost of wave power generation in line with offshore wind and help position the global renewable energy market to source 10% of its electricity from wave power by 2050.”

Founded in 2008, MPS quickly raised sufficient capital to develop and test a small-scale model of its WaveSub device.

It worked on a proof-of-principle prototype device that underwent successful trials and energy generation tests in 2009.

With operating principles and energy generation ability confirmed, MPS secured another £200,000 for further testing in 2010.

In 2013 it was awarded circa £500,000 by the Welsh Government, matched by private investors, to develop a quarter scale prototype.

This was followed by over £4million of funding from a combination of private investment & European Regional Development Funds in 2015 to manufacture and test the WaveSub prototype.