Arup takes part in two wave energy studies for Wave Energy Scotland

11 April 2017 3 min. read
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Wave Energy Scotland has commissioned Arup to support two energy studies aimed at exploring the potential of new materials that could improve the efficiency of energy generation from tidal waves.
As the world moves towards more sustainable energy sources - in face of the considerable environmental, social and economic damage of continuing to leverage fossil fuels - a number of options are being explored and developed, including, among others, wind, photoelectronic effect (solar), and tidal and other forms of ocean energy. The latter forms of energy have considerable potential, with prelimionary studies finding that taping just 0.1% of the 0.1% of the energy in ocean waves could be capable of supplying the entire world's energy requirements five times over. Ocean technologies are in relatively different stages of development, with wave energy conversion devices relatively more mature than other technologies such as  heat transfer and leveraging differences in salinity, which are still in the research and development phase.
Even while wave energy technologies are more mature, with projects already being tested and developed, the harsh ocean conditions remain conducive to relatively cheap scalable solutions. One of the organisations working on the development of innovative solutions in the wave energy generation segment, particularly to the technical challenges faced from harsh conditions, is Wave Energy Scotland (WES). The organisation offers a range of support to organisations creating whole, or parts, of systems that are robust and cost effectively generate energy from waves. The organisation, which formed in 2014, is a subsidiary of Highlands and Islands Enterprise. As it stands the organisation has supported 54 organisations, paying out a total of £22.5 million.

Arup commissioned to lead and partake in wave energy conversion study

The announcement from WES sees Arup join forces with a number of organisations to run studies of two potential materials that could improve the robustness and cost effectiveness of wave generation devices.

The first study, which is led by the firm and being undertaken with Cruz Atcheson, Sea Power, Wello and British Precast, considers the potential for concrete to become the main structural material for wave energy conversion devices, with the consequence a potentially steep decline in the levelised cost of electricity from the technology.

The second study, in which the firm supports Cruz Atcheson, is focused on assessing the potential for reinforced polymers featuring as part of hybrid structure for the main energy conversion devices. The firms will, in particular, focus on the material as the structural material for prime mover of point absorbers, with Arup performing analysis of the design structures and design support for the hybrid designs.

The studies will leverage a previous study, the ‘Wave Energy Scotland’s Forces & Stresses Landscaping Study’, developed by Arup and Cruz Atcheson. Commenting on the new commissions, Jacob Ahlqvist, Project Manager at Arup, remarks, “We are focused on finding a step change solution for wave energy conversion devices to help wave power reach its potential both off the coast of Scotland and worldwide. In our work with Wave Energy Scotland we will be drawing on decades of experience designing offshore structures and working with a range of materials in harsh environments.”

Tim Hurst, Managing Director at Wave Energy Scotland, says, “Wave Energy Scotland is pleased that the programme will benefit from Arup’s considerable wealth of knowledge about structural materials and manufacturing processes. I am looking forward to hearing the conclusions from these studies and the materials’ applicability to wave energy converters.”