UK wave technology development company Marine Power Systems (MPS) has successfully installed its prototype WaveSub wave energy converter at marine test centre FaBTest, marking the start of a new phase of sea-based testing. The WaveSub will now run through the final stages of on-site commissioning before energy generation tests kicks off later this summer.

The arrival of the WaveSub at FaBTest follows a 169 nautical mile tow from Milford Haven to Falmouth. The tow – provided by Leask Marine’s C-Fenna workboat – established an optimum tow speed of 6 knots for the WaveSub and confirmed its ability to travel long distances.  The journey follows a suite of tests that have been on-going since the WaveSub was launched onto open water at the start of this year.  These include tow tests, submergence tests, installation of the mooring system, and assembly and commissioning of the power buoy.  The positive outcomes of these tests are important indicators of WaveSub’s ability to address the main challenges of energy generation at sea, as identified by MPS in its 2017 report Making Wave Power Work.

The WaveSub will now enter the final phase of on-site commission based testing before being connected to the Power Buoy for in-depth energy generational capacity testing across a range of sea conditions.  Preparations for sea-based testing of the WaveSub follow a decade of R&D for the device. At full scale, each 100 metres long, 5-megawatt (MW) WaveSub will be able to power approximately 5,000 homes.

 Dr Graham Foster, Chief Technology Officer at MPS commented: “The successful installation of the WaveSub at FaBTest is another positive result for us, sitting within a suite of tests we have been running on the WaveSub over the first half of this year. We will now focus our attention on moving the WaveSub through final commissioning with a view to commencing energy generation trials later this summer. This move to FaBTest is another step forwards for MPS, taking us further along the path to full-scale manufacture and commercial roll-out of the WaveSub.”

Dr Gareth Stockman, CEO of Marine Power Systems commented: “The UK’s wave sector is currently world leading. With 35% of Europe’s wave resource lying here on our coastlines, we’re well placed to keep hold of this title. MPS believe that with continued support and investment, wave energy can grow to become a new source of low carbon power as well as being a significant contributor to the UK’s fast-growing renewables economy.”

Founding member of FaBTest, Prof. Lars Johanning, said: “We are delighted to be working with MPS on the sea trials of its WaveSub device in Falmouth Bay. We would like to congratulate them on completing installation and look forward to supporting operations as the novel device undergoes analysis at the FaBTest nursery test facility over the coming months.”

Wave energy has the potential to become a significant player in the UK renewables market, offering a competitive price for energy as well as enabling the UK government to achieve its legally binding low carbon commitments. A report released in May 2018 outlined how the UK wave energy sector is currently world leading and is anticipated to be worth a net cumulative benefit to the UK of £4billion, employing over 8,000 people by 2040. The move to FaBTest is a significant step forward for MPS, marking another step towards energy generation analysis and, ultimately, full scale manufacture and deployment of the WaveSub.

Video footage of the journey from Milford Haven to Falmouth can be viewed here