CorPower Ocean – Developing high efficiency Wave Energy Converters (WECs)
Based on the pumping principles of the human heart, CorPower WEC uses stored pressure to generate energy from waves in two directions. The design produces five times more energy per tonne of device compared to prior state-of-the-art technologies, enabling robust and cost-effective harvesting of electricity from ocean waves around the globe. The aim is to make wave power a reliable and competitive energy source.
CorPower WEC has a heaving buoy on the surface absorbing energy from the combined surge and heave motion of the waves. The light composite buoy is connected to the seabed through a power conversion module and a tension leg mooring system. As opposed to a conventional point absorber where the buoy follows the motion of the wave, CorPower’s solution uses control technology to better leverage the motion of the waves by giving the oscillating motion optimal timing with each wave.
Inspired by the human heart
The development of the technology was initiated in 2009 by inventor and cardiologist Stig Lundbäck. The WEC mimics the energy storage aspect of the human heart whereby the upward force of a wave swell pushes the buoy upwards while the stored pressure provides the restoring force driving the buoy downwards. This enables equal energy production in both directions, and a lightweight system that is naturally transparent unless actively controlled to match the wave climate.
“The WEC rests on three main patented technologies: the Wave Spring phase control technology, the Cascade gear technology, and the Pneumatic pre-tensioning technology. Together these solutions provide survivability in storms, amplify the motion in operational waves, even out the power distribution, and enable the use of a small and light system. The result is more cost-efficient electricity generation, with more manageable and less costly operations and maintenance”, Anders Jansson, Commercial Director at CorPower Ocean, explains.
Wave power key component in the energy transition
The EU has set a binding renewable energy target of at least 32.5% by 2030, and with the Green Deal the Commission aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, which will require vast amounts of renewable energy.“The practical obtainable market for wave energy is more than 20% of the global electricity need and there is a clear market demand to increase the penetration of renewable energy, a gap that wave energy will play a part in filling. Adding wave energy to the energy mix is an attractive way to balance our future electricity systems, making it a key component to enable the transition to 100% renewables. A consistent, highly predictable and complementary power production profile offers an efficient solution to fill out the gaps where solar and wind do not produce enough when there is still a demand for power. Natural grid balancing by wave energy is a competitive solution to reduce the amount of battery storage needed to balance our electricity systems in a deeply decarbonized future”, Jansson continues. CorPower recently won the category “Clean Energy from the Ocean” at the Blue Investment Day held in Brussels on February 4, where Periscope partner South Norway European office was present.
Since 2012, CorPower´s technology has been tested in multiple ways such as tank testing, dry-testing and installed in the ocean. The Stockholm-based company is now preparing for the first commercial scale ocean installation in 2021, followed by three additional WECs planned to be installed in 2023. The aim is to introduce certified and warrantied WEC products in the market by 2023-2024, with the main target customers being the utility and energy companies as well as project developers. “In order to become a viable option for our customers, we need to be able to supply a bankable product. That means a fully certified WEC that is insurable and underwritable to a competitive cost. Since 2014, we have been working with DNV GL to certify our prototypes and we will continue on this path in order to reach so called Type certifications of the WEC, such as achieving ISO accreditation on our company as well as our supply chain”, Jansson explains.
CorPower follows a structured five-stage verification process, which involves stepwise validation of survivability, performance, reliability and economics. The aim is to address risks at an early stage in the development process, when the costs are still limited due to smaller scale and team size. “This process, together with a deep understanding of the market and customer pains, have enabled us to attract the resources needed to develop CorPower and our technology”, Jansson reveals. CorPower has received funding from the European Commission, the Swedish and Scottish governments, InnoEnergy as well as private investors. The company currently has close to 40 employees, with headquarters in Stockholm and offices in Norway, Scotland and Portugal.