WEDUSEA wave energy project gears up for big splash

A €19.6m project backed by the EU is seeking to take wave energy beyond the pilot scale and demonstrate that the technology can play a key role in decarbonisation.

The OE35 1MW wave capture device
The OE35 1MW wave capture device - OceanEnergy

WEDUSEA (Wave Energy Demonstration at Utility Scale to Enable Arrays ) features 14 pan-European partners, led by Irish company OceanEnergy. Announced at this week’s International Conference on Ocean Energy in Spain, the project will see OceanEnergy’s 1MW OE35 wave capture device deployed at Orkney’s EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre), complete with grid connection.  

“This rigorous technical and environmental demonstration will happen over a two-year period in Atlantic wave conditions,” said Prof Tony Lewis, chief technical officer at OceanEnergy.

“We believe this will be transformational for the wave energy industry, with outcomes directly impacting policy, technical standards, public perception and investor confidence. Wave energy is the world’s most valuable and persistent renewable resource. However, it has yet to be fully realised. The project will demonstrate that wave technology is on a cost reduction trajectory and will thus be a stepping stone to larger commercial array scale up and further industrialisation. We predict that the natural energy of the world’s oceans will one day supply much of the grid.”

The OE35 floats on the ocean’s surface and includes a volume of trapped air, with the lower part of the device open to the sea. Wave pressures at the submerged opening cause the water to oscillate and drive the trapped air through a turbine to generate electricity. Co-funded by the EU Horizon Europe Programme and Innovate UK, WEDUSEA will explore the suitability of large devices like the OE35 to work in arrays and deliver grid-scale renewable electricity.

“We are expecting WEDUSEA to take wave energy beyond the state of the art by the collaboration of partners with a multi-disciplinary background and that it will contribute to the deployment of arrays of reliable wave energy devices to achieve the 1GW target for 2030 as presented in our Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy,” said the European Commission’s Matthijs Soede.   

“The current energy crisis shows that the use of multiple energy sources is important to improve the security of supply and a breakthrough in ocean energy would be welcome.”

Rémi Gruet, CEO of trade association Ocean Energy Europe, added: “Wave energy is at full-scale stage now and projects like WEDUSEA are paving the way for pilot farms and sector-wide industrialisation. As an EU-UK collaboration project, it will demonstrate the potential for wave energy to make a significant contribution to the EU Green Deal target. Wave energy will help smooth production peaks or dips from variable wind and ensure European energy independence.”