On the chessboard of sustainable energy, wave energy is a new and closely observed piece. All over the globe there are plenty of new companies ready to tackle the market of “blue” renewable production. Offshore wind turbines, wave and tide generator producers and investors are pushing the boundaries to make their products marketable.
Wave energy is green, fairly constant and predictable, and has a lot of potential in coastal regions.
CorPower is a promising “made in InnoEnergy” start-up, which for the past seven years has worked on developing a completely new product - a buoy powered by ocean movement - and is now in a crucial test phase for its technology. Partners and investors like Iberdrola, one of the most influential energy producers in Europe, have shown increasing interest with continuous investments in this innovative project. CorPower started small in 2009, but grew quickly and has now over 20 employees. The experience and commitment of Stig Lundbäck, inventor of the Dynamic Adaptive Piston Pump Technology in 1984, was fundamental for the kick-off. The aim was to create a highly efficient wave converter, which was possible thanks to the studies carried out by the NTNU Ph.D. Jørgen Hals Todalshaug who invented a novel phase control technology assembled in the buoy.
A dynamic team from CorPower was the guest of our Speaker Series, where they introduced the “Resonant Wave Energy Converter”. Such a share of knowledge gave the attendees a technical and deep insight of the converter that is nested into a balloon shaped shell. The prototype weighs over three tons and is filled with a variety of components, but the core component is undoubtedly the linear-to-rotational phase synchronizing converter. This converter is a true melting pot of different branches of engineering: mechanics, fluid dynamics, electrical conversion, control, communication… all of these skills are combined in a single floating object, moored to the seabed. Energy converters have been around soon after the discovery of electricity. However, a phase synchronizing one, was a complete novelty. Converting energy is in fact the ultimate purpose of the buoy, but in order to achieve this in an efficient manner, the credit has to be given to the control system, which drives the system oscillation in phase with the wave’s movement, creating a resonance. On the mechanical side, the linear to rotational motion is obtained by a patented cascade gear box, coupled with a dual system of high inertia flywheels to smoothen the output power. The efficiency of the buoy is increased by the WaveSpring technology that amplifies the linear movement.
CorPower now finds itself in a determinant moment, a crossroads that may lead toward a successful future. After years of testing the buoy in special pools, the time of real operation testing has finally arrived, thanks to the collaboration and the support of Wave Energy Scotland, which sees commercial potential in the technology. The prototype has been installed out of the shores of the United Kingdom in the first half of 2016, and will be tested for six months.
A single unit at the final commercial stage is rated at 250 kW power output. Initially, it is meant to supply an isolated community that is hard to be electrified through long and costly infrastructure. However, when the technology will be able to compete with other sources, the system will be scaled combining more units and creating a proper wave farm that supplies power to the land.
CorPower Ocean is a startup, driven by a close-knit team of 20 young and motivated people, working constantly, step by step, result after result. Some of them left old-fashioned jobs, embracing the uncertainty and dynamism of being part of a small and innovative company. The energy sector has for a long time been a “big boys only” table. Now, many challengers are trying to get their ticket to sit down at that table. CorPower is one of them, playing the game towards a more sustainable future, expanding the horizons of renewable energy, bringing to the market a brand-new and challenging product. Only time will tell us whether they are right. But for now, we see a committed group, hungry to make this technology competitive. And we wish them good luck.
Written by the InnoEnergy Community Post
19 October 2016