Set up in 2009 SEAI’s Prototype Development Fund is currently supporting 28 project. In the second article of this series, featuring projects supported through the Prototype Development Fund, we look at the deployment of the SeaPower Platform at the Galway Bay Marine Renewable Energy Test Site.
Grant and Activities Supported
In 2015, Sea Power Ltd were awarded a grant of €1,012,504 by SEAI through the Prototype Development Fund. This funding supported the design, manufacturing and launch of a quarter-scale wave energy converter (WEC) called the ‘SeaPower Platform’.
The SeaPower Platform works by capturing energy from the relative movement between two floating pontoons. This harnessed wave energy is converted to electrical energy by the devices ‘Power Take Off unit’ (PTO) which was developed by Limerick Wave. The PTO underwent initial bench testing at the Hydraulic and Maritime Research Centre at University College Cork in 2012. Subsequently, a 1:4 scale version of the PTO was tested by Ard Precision Ltd at Ardrahan, Co. Galway. The structural elements of the SeaPower Platform were manufactured by Foynes Engineering Ltd in Foynes Harbour, Limerick. It was then towed to the Galway Bay test site by Atlantic Towage & Marine Ltd of Bere Island Co. Cork.
The SeaPower Platform was deployed at the Galway Bay Marine Renewable Energy Test Site from October 2016 to March 2017. During this deployment, measurements were taken of the survival load panel pressures due to wave slamming and slapping, survival mooring line loads, survival hinge loads, operational and survival PTO loads, and velocities. The deployment also successfully demonstrated the devices electrical power conversion systems. While deployed, the device survived wave heights in excess of four meters at the test site which at full scale would be the equivalent of 16m wave heights. The power capacity of this 1:4 scale device was rated as 10kW, which is equivalent to a 1.2MW device at full-scale.
Speaking on the impact of the Prototype Development Fund on the SeaPower Platform Technology Joe Murtagh, Technical Director of Sea Power, said “The grant aid funding provided by the Prototype Development Fund allowed Sea Power Ltd to advance from TRL [Technology Readiness Level] 5 through to TRL 7. This meant that we were able to demonstrate performance and survival in an operational environment. The lessons learnt through the design, manufacturing, mooring, installation and orderly removal of the device were invaluable to the company and allowed us to build on existing intellectual property. In this difficult investor environment, the support provided by SEAI was very much appreciated. Sea Power also strongly recommends perspective developers to follow the development protocol established by the MaREI Centre and the Irish Marine Institute”
For more information on the SeaPower Platform go to www.seapower.ie.