The WaveSub prototype from Welsh developers Marine Power Systems begins sub-sea testing phase in Cornwall

Marine Power Systems (MPS), a wave power technology development company based in Wales, UK, will unveil its quarter-scale, prototype WaveSub wave energy generator, marking its move to a new, sea-based phase of its development. The event marks a milestone in the global race to produce wave energy at a market-competitive price. Over the last nine years MPS has developed the WaveSub, using over £5million of funding secured through private investment and highly competitive grants. The energy generation device, built and assembled in Wales, has been designed to address the four main challenges of energy generation at sea. It promises to move forward the burgeoning marine energy industry by generating reliable, affordable wave power.

The WaveSub operates by capturing wave energy around 10km from shore, utilising the continual orbital motion of waves to drive a sophisticated power-take-off (PTO) system. Similar to offshore wind, the power generated is transferred to land with an undersea cable. At full-scale, a WaveSub device measuring 100 metres long and rated at 5-megawatts, can power approximately 5,000 homes. This is a similar power output to a very large offshore wind turbine. Its depth-adjustability enables it to ‘hide’ from storms, minimising the stress put on the device and, crucially, to maintain an optimum energy generation in a broad range of sea states. Its size, components and materials have been diligently selected with a view to keeping manufacturing, transport and deployment costs down.

Following today’s unveiling at Pembroke Dock, the WaveSub will be towed to the award-winning marine test site FaBTest in Cornwall, England. Here MPS will demonstrate the WaveSub’s power-generation capacity across a broad range of sea conditions, the speed and cost-effective price at which it can be installed, its low maintenance costs and its survivability through the harshest of conditions.

Wave power represents a significant opportunity for clean renewable energy supply, with a total wave resource across the globe estimated by the International Energy Agency to be around 80,000 terawatt hours (TWh) / year, of which up to 4,000TWh / year is considered economically exploitable. Total global electricity consumption is currently circa 21,000 TWh / year. This is set to potentially double by 2050 depending on the trajectory of population growth, energy efficiency and the rise of electric transport. The global value of the marine renewables industry has been estimated by the International Energy Agency to be worth over £70bn by 2050 . Leading industry body Ocean Energy Europe reinforced this projection, stating 337GW of marine renewables could be deployed globally by 2050. In its recently released report Making Wave Power Work, MPS outlines its vision for wave power to contribute to 10% of global electricity demand by 2050, citing that the UK alone has 35% of Europe’s wave energy generation potential. Click here to read more

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