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International search for innovative power take-off systems for wave energy results in £7m award to technology innovators

31 July 2015

WES announces first round of contract awards from first competitive open call

Wave Energy Scotland (WES) has today announced the list of successful contract awards following its first international, competitive open call. The first call focused on innovative Power Take-Off systems for wave energy devices. Over £7m has been awarded to 16 technology developers and consortia, from countries including UK, USA, Italy and Sweden, all looking for investment to advance their technology through rigorous testing and, in time, towards commercialisation. Contracted amounts range from £78,000 for concept optimisation, up to £2M for later stage prototype development.

The open call received 42 full proposals which met the specific ‘gate entry’ criteria in order to be assessed.  Each successful project has been awarded up to 100 percent financial support for their technology development projects.  WES is focused on the development of low cost, efficient and reliable components and subsystems that can be shared by wave energy technology developers. 

Fergus Ewing, Minster for Energy, the Scottish Government commented: 

‘‘This is a hugely significant day for Wave Energy Scotland (WES).   WES is running the biggest technology programme the wave sector has ever seen.  Since the launch last year, there has been global interest in what the new organisation was planning to do. Therefore I am delighted to see the first contracts being awarded to technology developers.   Scottish businesses are involved in the overwhelming majority of the projects and this is testament to the number of innovative companies operating in Scotland. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting this important sector and we are confident that Scotland will continue to hold its world class status as a thriving country for wave energy technology development.”

Tim Hurst, Managing Director, Wave Energy Scotland said, “WES’ ambition is to accelerate the wave industry in Scotland and maintain our leading global position. The interest we received was truly international and as the finalists show, the call has driven a significant level of collaboration between a wide range of interested parties. We can now get started on delivering material outcomes for the sector through these projects and we are looking forward to supporting them all going forward.”

Steve Thomson, Chair of the WES Advisory Group commented, “It is really exciting to be part of WES and to be helping support this innovative sector. The interest that the PTO call received is really impressive and the quality of applications showed that there are some disruptive ideas out there that will help make wave energy a commercial reality. WES’ role is to nurture these and help get them across the line to create a prosperous wave energy sector in Scotland.”

Wave Energy Scotland was set up as a subsidiary of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and is fully funded by the Scottish Government. The new organisation is seen as a fresh approach to tackling the issues which have proved challenging in the wave energy sector.

Notes to Editors

Details of successful contracts

Note, projects are not listed in order of final score or ranking.

Stage 1 Projects

  • Project: Edinburgh Designs Adaptive Power Take Off (EDAPTO)

    Lead Partner: Edinburgh Designs

    Description: The project is a design study of Edinburgh Designs Adaptive Power Take Off (EDAPTO) - an advanced, hybrid electro-hydraulic power take off system that will drive forward a step change in the levelised cost of energy. The study will undertake cost/benefit analysis using existing performance data to produce an optimised design, suitable for build as a scale or full-scale prototype.

    Other Partners: None

    Contract amount: £78,090
  • Project: Power Electronic Controlled Magnet Gear (PECMAG)

    Lead Partner: Ecosse Subsea Systems

    Description: The feasibility study will determine if a novel electric generator with an integral magnetic gearing system, developed for a lightweight wind turbine generator, can be adapted for use as a PTO system by integrating with a high-efficiency power electronics and intelligent control system. The project will explore the potential to deliver a new performance standard that cuts the LCOE benchmark in a range of WEC technology classes.

    Other Partners: Bathwick Electrical Design Limited, Pure Marine Limited and Supply Design Limited.

    Contract amount: £100,000
  • Project: Advanced Hydraulic-electric Power Take Off (AHPTO)

    Lead Partner: Nova Innovation Limited

    Description: The Advanced Hydraulic-electric PTO (AHPTO) utilises a novel combination of proven, ‘best-in-class’ hydraulic and power electronic subsystems to significantly increase the power capture, reliability, controlability and grid compatibility of WEC prime-movers. Simple off-shelf industrial hydraulics are employed alongside supercapacitors and full-scale rated converter power electronics to more efficiently convert the WEC power fluctuations into grid-compliant power.

    Other Partners: Aquamarine Power, Siemens

    Contract amount: £89,929
  • Project: New Electric Automotive Power Extraction Device (NEAPED)

    Lead Partner: Marine Design International (MDI)

    Description: This project investigates the feasibility of technology transfer from the automotive industry to the wave energy sector. In recent years, great advances have been made in the development of highly reliable, efficient and low cost drive train technology for the rapidly growing electric vehicle market. NEAPED will use the latest mass produced electric vehicle technology as the basis for a wave energy PTO. The project objective is to transfer 'best in class' automotive performance, efficiency and reliability to deliver a step change reduction in the levelised cost of energy of wave energy converters.

    Other Partners: 4c Design

    Contract amount: £79,400
  • Project: Wave Energy Transmission Module

    Lead Partner: Romax Technology Ltd.

    Description: This project will develop a power take off (PTO) module comprising a gearbox and generator capable of converting the reciprocal motion of a wave energy converter (WEC) into grid-compliant electricity at a low cost of energy (CoE).

    Other Partners: Sea Power Ltd, Limerick Wave & Pure Marine Gen

    Contract amount: £100,000
  • Project: 'WEC-Direct'- The application of a direct drive, contra-rotating generator to wave energy converters

    Lead Partner: Energy Systems Research Unit, University of Strathclyde

    Description: This feasibility study will investigate the application of a direct drive, contra-rotating generator to different WEC architectures in order to establish the impact this step changing technology can have on reducing plant capital costs through: weight savings; reduction of the station keeping/ hold down capacity; reducing operational and maintenance costs through the elimination of generally complex power transfer and take-off systems; improvements to device performance and efficiency through the elimination of the power conversion and transfer system and ultimately reducing the cost of energy from WECs.

    Other Partners: Nautricity Ltd.

    Contract amount: £99,128
  • Project: Power Sharing Transmission based Bi-directional to Uni-directional PTO (PST-PTO)

    Lead Partner: Cofely Fabricom

    Description: This project will further evaluate the gains in terms of efficiency, flexibility and robustness of an electromechanical PTO system which transforms the bi-directional movement into a uni-directional rotation that can easily be fed to a generator. The PTO system is under patent application, and includes at its core the intelligent use of a power sharing transmission.

    Other Partners: Ghent University

    Contract amount: £99,990
  • Project: Survivable and Efficient OLeo-hydraulic assisted power TAke-off (SEÒLTA)

    Lead Partner: TECNALIA Research & Innovation

    Description: The main goal of this project (SEÒLTA) is to produce a step change in the overall performance of Power Take-Off (PTO) systems used for Wave Energy harvesting. Particularly, this project phase will characterise and assess the feasibility to Wave Energy of a novel hybrid PTO configuration that is directly inspired on those used in the automotive sector which have achieved a significant reduction on fuel consumption (in the range of 30-50%).

    Other Partners: OCEANTEC Energías Marinas S.L.

    Contract amount: £87,271
  • Project: Direct contact dielectric elastomer PTO for submerged wave energy converters


    Description: The Project aims at developing a breakthrough technology for direct conversion of oscillating mechanical energy of ocean waves into electricity through the employment of dielectric elastomer generators. Such kind of technology allows the merging of all the conventional components of a Wave Energy Converter into a single, solid state, highly deformable body that interacts directly with hydrodynamic forces of the waves.


    Contract amount: £96,000

Stage 2 projects

  • Project: C-GEN Direct Drive PTO

    Lead Partner: University of Edinburgh

    Description: The C-GEN generator is a novel direct drive linear generator which is easy to manufacture and assemble, as well as being highly efficient over a wide range of loads. A number of prototypes have been demonstrated to confirm the scientific and technical rigour of the concept, including a 50kW prototype for wave energy applications. This project will focus on understanding how generator windings and bearings perform under marinisation. Results from modelling and testing will feed into the design tool to be used for full scale designs of existing wave devices, to demonstrate total energy cost of £150/MWh. 

    Other Partners: University of Strathclyde, NGenTec Ltd, Fountain Design Ltd.

    Contract amount: £467,785
  • Project: Hybrid Digital Displacement® hydraulic PTO for wave energy

    Lead Partner: Artemis Intelligent Power Ltd.

    Description: The project will complete the next stage of work to integrate Artemis Digital Displacement Pump-motor (DDPM) technology into a state of the art Power Take-off (PTO) systems to produce a new ‘hybrid’ with a combined capability greater than the sum of the parts. The highly innovative system will offer continuously variable control of loads in reaction to the wave forces on the wave energy converter (WEC). The hybrid system should represent a system close to the ultimate limits of performance for a fluid power WEC PTO system. 

    Other Partners: Quoceant Ltd. 

    Contract amount: £499,997
  • Project: ReBaS Generator (Reciprocating Ball Screw Generator)

    Lead Partner: UMBRA Cuscinetti S.p.A.

    Description: The ReBaS Generator project demonstrates the advantages of using a reciprocating linear drive featuring recirculating ball screw technology to convert energy from ocean waves to electricity at a high efficiency.  Recirculating ball screw drives are already widely used and well established in other sectors, e.g. robotics, machining tools or aircraft control systems.  The project is led by Umbra Cuscinetti from Italy who is world leader in the production of recirculating ballscrew and electromechanical systems for the aeronautical, energy and industrial sector.  Hebrides Marine Services Ltd, a spin out company of the University of the Highlands and Islands, based in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland acts as project manager and coordinator for the tank testing stages.

    Other Partners: Hebrides Marine Services Ltd, SEAPOWER scrl [Consortium with University of Naples Federico II]

    Contract amount: £440,348
  • Project: Blue Power Take Off

    Lead Partner: Blue Power Energy Ltd

    Description: By utilising a range of existing hardware components and subsystems in this novel application, the Blue Power PTO has the opportunity of achieving early and reliable deployment in conjunction with a range of WEC designs.  A key outcome of the project will be a detailed performance characterisation of the PTO and, following this, the development of control strategies to ensure that the versatility of the PTO can be fully exploited for different WEC designs. During the execution of the project, the particular advantages of the Blue Power PTO in providing rectified and smoothed power will be further developed to deliver a compact design which will provide a significant advance in the performance, reliability, affordability and LCOE of WEC devices.

    Other Partners: Energy Technology Centre Ltd.

    Contract amount: £306,530 
  • Project: Concept Optimisation of a Variable Damping Linear Power Take Off 

    Lead Partner: Oscilla Power Ltd.

    Description: In  this  project, Oscilla  Power  Ltd will  optimize  and  demonstrate  its  high  reliability,  variable damping linear drivetrain concept, which combines a linear hydraulic “gearbox” with either a conventional or an advanced linear generator.  Designed for use in Oscilla Power's Triton(TM) wave energy converter, but applicable to a wide range of other device types, the linear drivetrain will enable high energy capture and low maintenance costs, allowing the industry to achieve its goals of sub £150/MWh levelised cost of electricity.    

    Other Partners: Oscilla Power, Inc. (USA), EMEC (UK)

    Contract amount: £499,998 

Stage 3 projects

  • Project: HiDrive - A direct drive PTO for resonant Wave Energy Converters

    Lead Partner: CorPower Ocean

    Description: This project aims at delivering a highly reliable PTO solution using innovative control technology offering a step-change improvement in performance and cost to the wave energy sector. The unique PTO technology will be taken through the next step of structured verification, guided by best practice support from EMEC, the experience from offshore power generation company Iberdrola Engineering and by the expertise in cost modelling of University of Edinburgh

    Other Partners: Iberdrola Engineer & Construction, EMEC & University of Edinburgh

    Contract amount: £1,893,461

Leave a comment

Allan Sutherland 08/10/2015

Is it possible for a non technical member of the public to obtain independent commentary on the Wave Energy Development sector to get an idea of the likely viability of this form of energy generation. I am sure that I am not alone in wondering why we have not yet had delivered the wonderful potential of cheap electricity from our Northern waters,so much promised by our government energy spokespersons. Considering the recent demise of Pelamis and the vast losses incurred there, I have to assume that the newly established Wave Energy Scotland must have confidence that the difficulties experienced by those failed developers like Pelamis can be surmounted and learned from? I am one of those who "gets it" regarding the utilisation of the vast power held within our oceans but since Prof Salter`s pioneering work back in the 70`s, it is quite discouraging that we do not yet receive the benefits promised for so long. Perhaps better available up to date information for the public at large might help keep onside those who believe in this technology.

Roy Wagner 30/11/2015

Dear Allan, The main reasons are the engineering challenges involved and the approaches chosen by numerous companies who are pioneering technology. Devices have to be built to withstand severe storms where the destructive forces can be 1000 times more damaging than during normal operations. This raises costs above the point of commercial viability. Consider the challenges of building an PTO and electrical generator that has to perform in corrosive salt water that requires sub-sea transformers and cables. Underwater construction and maintenance also add to the costs involved. Several of the leading companies have devices that failed or had difficulty delivering the results forecast-ed by models in the real world. Others never got the follow up investment required to commercialize their technology. Oceanlynx, Pelamis, Ocean Power Technologies,Aquamarine,and others these failures either in technology or getting funding makes the possibility for newer, innovative ocean energy technologies to get the seed funding required to build their prototypes. As a founder of a new startups developing ocean energy systems I am saddened by these other companies failures. There are multiple ways to harness ocean energy waves, tides, current OTEC some near shore some in the open ocean each has it's own challenges and potential to provide dependable renewable energy.

Reg Friedenthal 02/03/2016

We have a new approach to an old idea i.e. Oscillating Water Column. It has some radical improvements including survival characteristics and a unique turbine design. We have a prepared 1 to 16 scale model which has been prepared for the final model test at Flow Wave TT at Edinburgh University And we are at the stage where we need to collaborate with an organisation such as yours. Please advise if you are interested in a follow up. With thanks Reg Friedenthal.

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