Saturday 7 November 2015

WES winners

Wave energy Scotland recently announced the eight projects that won funding for the novel device call. So, just who are the people behind the winning teams, and how does their tech wiggle? Have any of the device developers that suffered from the recent crisis of investor confidence secured funding?

Brought to you by the wonders of Google, here is a quick summary (or speculation) of each of the winning projects. The first point of note is that over half the grants went to devices that could be described as attenuators.

Sea Power Platform

4C Engineering, an Inverness-based consultancy formed by AWS staff when Alstom discontinued funding AWS, has teamed up with Irish company Sea Power Ltd. WES is funding a Cost of Energy reduction study for the Sea Power Platform: a 2-body hinged raft, designed to operate in attenuator configuration. The distinction between this design and other two-body rafts is the mass distribution: mass is moved away from centres of rotation. More information about the device can be found in the Marinet tank tests report.


Another two-body hinged raft is the Mocean Wave Energy Converter. This is being developed by a PhD student at Edinburgh University, Cameron McNatt, and ex-Pelamis hydrodynamicist, Chris Rezler. The distinguishing feature of this concept, according to the website, is the ability to vary the ratio and position of the water-plane area to the submerged volume, in order to tune resonant response.

This is a new concept, so there is very little information available as yet about it. However, the team also succeeded in winning entry into the first round of the US Wave Energy Prize, so I shall be keeping an eye on their updates.

Automatically Inflatable and Stowable Volume

Even more mysterious is Quoceant Ltd's ‘Automatically Inflatable and Stowable Volume’. Quoceant is an Edinburgh company made up of ex-Pelamis staff, headed by Richard Yemm. There does not appear to be any information about the device on the internet, which suggests this is a new concept. It is interesting to note that such a concept has survivability as an intrinsic part of the design brief.


An attenuator concept that is not so new is the Anaconda device. It was invented by Prof Francis Farley, and is being commercialised by the English company, Checkmate Seaenergy. The scarcity of investment capital lead to a lull in development activity, so the WES grant has given Checkmate the chance to continue with their development programme. It is interesting to note that, like Quoceant’s device, this concept can be deflated to attract fewer loads: it too has an intrinsic storm mode. 

WaveTrain Sloped Pneumatic WEC

The most surprising and innovative of the winning bids is the 'WaveTrain'. This is a series of floating OWCs (oscillating water columns) in attenuator configuration. The water column is in a highly sloped tube. The bottom of each tube is connected to the OWC in front, at mean water level, via hinged struts. There is power capture from each of the OWCs but not from the hinges. There is also an elastic tether between the front and back OWC. The photo from the Marinet report does a better job of explaining than I have!

This concept is being developed by Joules Energy Efficiency Services Ltd, a Belfast-based family company featuring Dr. Nick Wells - not the inventor of the Wells turbine, but nevertheless a good surname for wave power. Previously this company had been working on the TETRON wave energy converter.

Advanced Archimedes Waveswing

When Inverness-based AWS lost their investors in the recent crisis, they retained two key staff, who went on to win two entries into the first round of the US Wave Energy Prize.

One partnership worked on the Waveswing concept (pictured above): this is a bottom-reacting device with a pulsating-volume in the heave direction. The original concept was developed by Dutch company Teamwork Technology, who tested a prototype in Portugal. Their version had a linear generator. The prototype suffered several mishaps, causing the investors to sell the company. The new company retained the patents for the Waveswing, but not the original staff. They went on to develop, and win investment for, a reworking of the CLAM, which was known as the AWS III.

The other partnership for the US Wave Energy Prize involved the AWS III concept (pictured below). However, this project recently withdrew from the competition.

The reference in the WES grant announcement to the Portuguese trials indicates that the grant was awarded not for the AWS III device that had been developed in partnership with Alstom, but for an adaptation of the original AWS I device.


Edinburgh company Albatern managed to weather the recent investment crisis by field-testing small devices. While their linked arrays of 7.5kW buoys did not attract the interest of the utility market, they did get the attention of fish-farmers, who rely on expensive diesel generators. Albatern’s grant was to develop the WaveNET Series 12: their standard concept upscaled to 75kW buoys. Last month Albatern won WES’s support in terms of a private-public partnership to demonstrate their technology for aquaculture.

The WaveNET is an arrangement of short and long bouys. The bases of the long buoys are connected underwater to the short buoys via hinged struts, with power take off from the hinges.


This is a ground-reacting paddle which captures power from its pitching motion. Its distinguishing feature is the concave surface facing the waves. It is being developed by the University of Bath and start-up company Zyba. As much of the development has been funded by public awards, the company also survived the recent funding crisis. Indeed, the concept has been very successful in winning funding. In July this year, the University of Bath won £0.6m, and Zyba won £1.2m for work on array optimisation, co-operative control, and desalination. The Zyba website suggests that the intension is to sea trial nine 20kW units, two of which will power remote islands. A recent newsclip gives clues as to how these prototypes might look:

It is interesting to note the similar development strategies of Zyba and Albatern. Both are using niche markets to get their feet wet, while their plans for utility-scale concepts are multiple co-operative units of the niche market device.

Image credits:

'Some day, all your ducks in a row' by Digicolleen:
Photo of Sea Power Platform, from:

Anaconda visualisation, copyright Checkmate.
Photo of WaveTrain Sloped Pneumatic WEC, from :
Photo of WaveNET, copyright Albatern
Photo of CCell prototype from:

Photo of AWS III tank test equiptment from 

1 comment:

  1. Ally,

    Great website as always! Re: the piece on the 'WaveTrain Sloped Pneumatic WEC'. Three buoys in row - all seemingly helping each other to move in the desired way. I was really pleased to hear about this when I met Nick Wells in Glasgow some moths ago at a WES workshop. I'd love to show the photos to Chiapo Lin who did much of the work on the Sloped IPS Buoy at the U of Edinburgh but have sadly lost contact with him. Nick Wells is a super guy and you're correct in saying that he didn't invent the Wells turbine. He wasn't able to because his dad had beaten him to it!



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