Making a splash: Group prepares to launch novel wave energy system

Making a splash: Group prepares to launch novel wave energy system

The MU-EDRIVE project
The project involves attaching a generator and power converter to a buoy off the Northumberland coast.

A group at Newcastle University is preparing to install a prototype wave energy converter (WEC) in the North Sea.

MU-EDRIVE is among eight projects funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Wave energy can be thought of as a concentrated form of solar energy, the group says. The sun heats the land causing hot air to rise causing wind and when the wind blows across the sea surface it creates an oscillating up and down motion in the water.

MU-EDRIVE aims to demonstrate the marinization and upscaling of all-electric powertrains for wave energy converters. The Newcastle team will install a generator and converter on a buoy moored 3km off the Northumberland coast at Blyth in spring 2024 for a period of 12 months.

Once installed, the WEC prototype will provide operational data to measure the effectiveness of the approach.

It will also test the latest anti-corrosion and anti-fouling technologies and help improve understanding of WEC robustness on site. The Edinburgh team, in partnership with Mocean Energy, will design, build and test a magnetic gearbox to demonstrate the upscaling of electric power take-off systems.

The project is also expected to demonstrate how marinization and magnetic gear technology can be scaled to greater performance levels and more fully integrated into wave energy converters.

Under the direction of Dr. Nick Baker of Newcastle University, MU-EDRIVE is a collaboration between Dr. Serkan Turkman and Professor Jeff Neasham from Newcastle University and Professor Markus Mueller from the University of Edinburgh. It follows the successful collaboration between Edinburgh and Newcastle on the MEC-EDRIVE project funded by the EPSRC under a previous wave energy call.

FloWave Edinburgh
The FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility at the University of Edinburgh, one of the collaborators on the MEC-EDRIVE project.

Baker, Reader in Emerging Electrical Machines and Senior Lecturer, commented: “To reach the ambitious goal of net zero by 2050, it is important to look at the energy system as a whole. Wave energy comes from solar energy as the sun heats the land, the land heats the air to create wind and wind creates waves. Wave energy can therefore be considered “energy dense” and could be a major factor in moving away from traditional energy sources.

“The upscaling goal of the MU-EDRIVE project will help reduce the cost of energy production as devices get larger, making energy both easier to access and use and more affordable. It’s hard to say what a wave energy device will look like 10 years from now. If you think back to 10 years ago, offshore wind turbine technologies were still in their infancy – the same might be true for wave power now.”

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