UK waters have some of the best marine resources in the world and we are well placed to exploit them. Whilst our ability to extract energy from tides is more advanced than from waves, both industries are still at the early stages of technology development, but have the potential to supply about 20% of the UK’s electricity which would offset approximately 30 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
The UK is blessed with a significant wave energy resource. However, few technologies to date have demonstrated that this potential can be harnessed affordably and reliably, with the industry remaining at a juncture.
Bombora is a leading wave energy technology developer and will soon deploy its first 1.5MW device, named mWaveTM, off the coast of Pembrokeshire. The current design focuses on nearshore, shallow water locations; however, the lion’s share of the global wave energy resource is located in deeper offshore sites.
As a result, Bombora and ORE Catapult are working together as part of the Marine Energy Engineering Centre of Excellence (MEECE) to identify a techno-economic solution that is viable for such sites.
This feasibility study is investigating the optimum approach to mounting mWaveTM on a floating platform. Floating mWaveTM is being modelled using the OrcaFlex software to identify platform configurations that will result in sufficient energy production and can be built cost-effectively. The project will also study if there are synergistic benefits in siting the Floating mWaveTM technology alongside floating wind turbines, such as shared balance of plant costs. In addition, the study will progress an understanding of shared wind and wave foundation design requirements.
Wave energy is a largely untapped source of power that could be harnessed to decarbonise the UK and provide a complimentary and considerable source of renewable energy. With a global market worth £76 billion across 50 countries, it’s estimated that wave and tidal energy could contribute about £4 billion to UK GDP by 2050, offering strong export opportunities and the potential to increase the number of skilled jobs from the current 1,700 to around 20,000 in the next decade.
The MEECE project team is leading on the numerical modelling work to build the floating platform and determine energy generation, which will feed into economic analysis performed by ORE Catapult’s Analysis and Insights team to assess the economic viability of Floating mWaveTM.
ORE Catapult has access to a wealth of data from the offshore renewable energy sector that it can pull from to predict with a high level of confidence the levelised cost of energy (LCoE) from this new technology, as well as identify areas for improvement.