Wave Energy Scotland 'open for business'
Tue, 26 May 2015
In mid-March, the new research and development organisation Wave Energy Scotland declared that it is now 'open for business' - and announced the launch of a £7 million technology innovation competition.
The body, which is supported by the Scottish government via Highlands and Islands Enterprisehas issued a call for proposals for novel power take-off (PTO) systems and invites applications from 'innovative technology developers who require investment to advance their technology through rigorous testing and, in time, towards commercialisation.'
As Tim Hurst, Managing Director at Wave Energy Scotland (WES), explains, up until now the wave energy sector has been unable to make the 'technological breakthrough' necessary for the cost effective generation of wave energy, largely because it is 'a young industry that is trying to resolve a wide range of the technology challenges.'
"This sort of work involves R&D, it is time consuming and it is also costly as developers try to find a method to produce wave energy which is reliable and not prohibitively expensive to the private sector. What we need to do now is to learn the lessons from the work carried out by wave energy developers to date and to work collaboratively to find solutions," he says.
In working towards this goal, Hurst also reveals that WES will provide a new method of financing technology development, by adopting a procurement model as opposed to a grant model, that allows up to 100% of costs to be met and which he says will 'keep development work progressing until private sector investment returns.'
The PTO system call will be followed by a further four competitive calls over the coming year, each also backed by a number of other organisations across the UK, including the Carbon Trust, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and the University of Edinburgh - with the ultimate aim being to position wave energy technology developed in Scotland on the road towards a 'reliable, commercial product that generates electricity at no more than £150/MWh.'
"Despite the significant global resource that exists in wave energy, technology developers are experiencing both technical and commercial challenges and this has resulted in a loss of confidence from the private sector," says Michael Rea, Chief Operating Officer at the Carbon Trust.
Rea particularly welcomes the new body because it will take a long term perspective and provide a 'stable and sustained support framework' - as well as because each technological challenge will be broken down into smaller easier components, which he believes will 'encourage collaboration and new ideas.'
"We believe the design of Wave Energy Scotland is fit for purpose and is exactly what the sector needs at this time," he adds.