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WAVE ENERGY: NORTHERN PORTUGAL TO HOST MARINE ENERGY CENTER

Wave energy converter developer CorPower will set up a research and development center in northern Portugal. With an investment of 16 million euros, the company will set up a HiWave 5, a facility in the port of Viana do Castelo.

Source : CorPower

A strategic positioning

For this investment, the port of Viana do Castelo was not chosen by chance. This region has a strong pool of engineering skills from offshore wind, shipyards, high level universities… This pool is a fundamental asset to effectively develop future wave activities in northern Portugal.

Choosing Portugal as a country is not insignificant either as it is an ideal environment for HiWave 5, due to its natural assets and environmental awareness.

The port authority of the ports of Douro, Leixoes and Viana do Castelo have reached an agreement. The goal of the project is to build a facility for the manufacture, assembly and maintenance of commercial-scale wave energy converters.

“The HiWave-5 program is recognized as one of the most ambitious efforts in ocean energy. The arrival of HiWave-5 is expected to reinforce Portugal’s reputation as a world leader in renewable energy, with significant investments in people, technology and facilities. […] CorPower’s work strongly complements Portugal’s industrial strategy for ocean renewables, designed to create a competitive and innovative industrial export hub for ocean renewables”(source:
Corpower
).

Port of Viana do Castelo. Source : CorPower

Growing interest in wave energy

There is a rather growing interest from developers in new generation wave energy projects.

For Patrick Moller, CEO of CorPower,

“This is a crucial step in our quest to develop a new class of high-efficiency wave energy converters.”

“CorPower’s goal is to successfully introduce certified and guaranteed WEC products to the market by 2024, making wave energy a bankable technology that can attract financing for conventional renewable energy projects.”

“Wave energy can play a fundamental role in Portugal’s transition to 100% renewable energy, while providing a platform to boost Portuguese exports and long-term investment opportunities for local supply chains” (via Press Release
Corpower
).

Source : Corpower

Why develop marine energy?

Wave energy, what is it?

Wave energy takes its name from its energy source, the wave, and is also called wave energy.

By its repetitive movements, the swell is at the origin of a great quantity of driving energy. This is why many engineers have come up with solutions to capture this movement and transform it into electrical energy. This approach is in line with the dynamics of the energy transition, insofar as no fossil energy is involved.

To capture this energy, several devices exist such as

  • the articulated floating chain, which is the best known system to date. These are long floats aligned perpendicular to the direction of the waves that activate turbines on the ocean floor.
  • the vertical oscillation column, which is a system based on the principle of centrifugal force.
  • the underwater pressure sensor that captures the orbital movement of the waves

What is the potential of such energy?

Its potential is very interesting because its yield should be close to that of hydroelectricity. This would allow mass production of electrical energy at low cost.

However, the technology is not yet mature enough to comment on its performance. The Research & Development sector on this technology is in full swing and continues to improve.

In order to install this type of infrastructure, the following points must be taken into account

  • the extreme weather conditions of the open sea
  • the cost of the electrical connection at sea
  • the price of the sea anchorage
  • maintenance costs

Thus, the potential of this energy will reach its maximum when these technical and financial problems will have found all their answers.

The advantages of this energy

Wave energy has many advantages over other renewable energies.

The power and frequency of the waves is predictable, so the production of the wave systems is also predictable. Moreover, these systems work 24 hours a day, the swell never stops, unlike the winds. Finally, these devices respond perfectly to the problem of population development in the sense that it does not encroach on the available land space.

So what’s wrong with wave energy?

This picture paints an almost flawless picture of this new technology. However, there are some aspects to consider.

First of all, these wave systems are offshore. The cost of maintenance and upkeep of the latter is tenfold compared to other renewable energy systems. The consequences on the marine fauna and flora could be catastrophic and have repercussions on the fishing activities. Then, we must not forget that depending on the chosen device, the visual pollution of the wide can be important.

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