Funding to focus on wave and tidal technologies

AWS Ocean Energy and Marine Current Turbines (MCT) have been awarded a total of £600,000 by the Technology Strategy Board and EPSRC to develop their wave and tidal energy technologies.

AWS Ocean Energy and its project partner, Strathclyde University, have received £350,000 while MCT and project partners Queen’s University Belfast, Mojo Maritime and Edinburgh University have secured a grant of £250,000.

Funding to AWS follows support given earlier in July by the Scottish government’s WATERS programme (Wave and Tidal Energy: Research, Development and Demonstration Support).

Both funding streams will be used by AWS to further develop its AWS-III device, a ring-shaped multi-cell surface-floating wave power system, the result of almost two years of intensive research and development work.

According to AWS, a single utility-scale AWS-III, measuring around 60m in diameter, will be capable of generating up to 2.5MW of continuous power.

MCT will use its latest funds to develop a fully submerged SeaGen tidal turbine that can be deployed in deepwater sites where there are large tidal ranges or significant wave environments.

The project will build on the success of the company’s SeaGen tidal system, which has been generating electricity into the grid from Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland, since 2008.

MCT’s new technology will use similar turbines, power trains and control systems to those already proven with SeaGen. As with the present system, the next-generation SeaGen will be able to be maintained above the surface of the water.

The funding announced from the Technology Strategy Board is part of a larger £7m funding package awarded to a total of nine wave and tidal stream research and development projects. 

According to the Technology Strategy Board, the projects are focusing on driving down the cost of energy while improving the reliability and performance of wave and tidal stream energy devices. Some of the projects will look to enhance the performance of existing devices while others aim to develop novel, breakthrough concepts.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: ‘By 2050 we are going to have very different energy needs than we have today and we will be getting our energy from different sources.

‘The UK is well placed to exploit wave and tidal stream energy resources with all of the coast line that we have, and it is expected this kind of technology will be an important part of the renewable energy mix needed in the future.

‘We still need to prove which technological solutions will most successfully harness marine energy and we need to reduce the cost of the energy produced to make the technology competitive with other renewable energy solutions. So there are a range of technological challenges to address.’

Click here to read how wave and tidal technologies are being trialled in Scotland.