Although the industry has seen significant advances in the last ten years, there are still considerable challenges in making electricity from waves.
In particular, wave converters have to capture the massive and highly irregular energy from slow-moving waves and turn this into a reliable and cost-effective stream of electricity. In 2017, a £2.5 million project funded by Scottish agency Wave Energy Scotland to trial a prototype which aimed to do just that.
Working with Edinburgh specialists Quoceant, the digital displacement team base din Scotland, developed a power take-off technology called ‘Quantor’ which for the first time included the use of Digital Displacement hydraulics to tame the massive but slow and erratic power output of wave energy machines.
The system is a fundamental advance in capturing the mechanical power generated by waves.
Quantor combines the established advantages of hydraulic power – controlling tremendous forces in harsh environments at comparatively low cost – with the latest in smart digital control, to enable dramatic improvements in efficiency and controllability of wave energy devices.
The idea is not entirely new. In fact, Digital Displacement was originally conceived by wave energy pioneers at the University of Edinburgh.
This project enabled the ability to put theory into practice and build a complete hybrid power transmission on a unique laboratory test-rig. This simulated the behaviour of a wave energy converter responding to a range of different real sea conditions and allowed us to demonstrate a completely realistic power conversion system that has the capacity to work at sea.
Wave energy thus far remains a tantalising prospect. But the machines of tomorrow could have Digital Displacement at their heart.
Digital Displacement – imagining tomorrow, today.