Monday 29 July 2013

USA shows some pioneering spirit

Well done to the USA (Wind and Water Power Technologies Office) for acknowledging that game-changing innovations are essential for speeding up the commercialisation of WEC technology, and that researching these innovations is most cost effective at early stages of technology development. A recent announcement proposed an innovation challenge, to be judged by numerical modelling and tank trials.

Market incentives for sea trials

For a long time, the value of a prototype marine energy technology, and hence the investment available for its development, has been measured on a 1D linear scale: technology readiness level (TRL). Consequently there has been market pressure to attain high TRLs at the lowest overall development cost.

Monday 22 July 2013

Pretentious? Moi?

There is a reluctance to criticise people

It is hard not to be aware of the strong reluctance in the wave energy community (valid use of the much-abused term 'community') to be seen as critical of “other people's work”.  I think the problem is less the criticism of the work, and more the implied criticism of the people who identify with this work - there is concern that critique could cause offence. Perhaps more importantly, being critical of previous work bears a risk to one's reputation of being perceived as "pretentious". This is because criticism can be interpreted as an attempt to show that one is better than the person whose work is being criticised.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

US Wave Energy Converter Prize Consultation

The US federal government (The Wind and Water Power Technologies Office) is holding a public consultation about a proposed funding scheme for wave energy technologies. The public are invited to share their views either on a webinar to be held this Thursday (9am-11am British summer time), or by email (closing date 25 July). Full details can be found at:

Monday 8 July 2013

Falnes's diagram: just a bunch of old maths?

What does Falnes's well-known diagram depicting the principle 'to absorb a wave you must make a wave' (Fig 1) actually show? Is this achievable or just a mathematical slight of hand, a bit of physics-sudoku with no relevance to the real world?

Monday 1 July 2013

It is human to model

René Magritte's "The Human Condition II" (1935) is not about waves, even though it has got waves in it. This is a painting about modelling.

Inside the room stands an easel bearing a painting, which depicts the waves in the landscape outside the room. The painting on the easel gives the illusion of blending in with its subject: only close inspection reveals where one starts and the other ends. This wry joke rings true for engineers: unless we pay attention, we could risk confusing a model with the real system.