Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have been awarded around £300 000 from Innovate UK to develop the first microgrids powered by onshore wave energy converters (WECs).
The new project ‘Sea Wave Energy Powered Microgrid for Remote Islands and Rural Coasts’, is funded as part of Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst programme and will be carried out in collaboration with Eco Wave Power, the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) of Thailand, and the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) of Thailand.
The research team at Queen Mary will develop an advanced microgrid solution using novel control systems and power electronics to significantly improve the overall performance of Eco Wave Power’s existing onshore WECs. It is hoped their approach could reduce the maintenance costs of these systems and help provide reliable electricity to low-income residents of Thailand’s remote islands in the future.
WECs convert wave energy into renewable forms of electricity. Currently, offshore wave energy technology is struggling to be commercialised at large-scale due to the high cost caused by the maintenance, long distance power transmission and low conversion efficiency of existing WECs.
This project will study the development of onshore WECs powering the first pilot microgrid in Phaluai Island located in southern part of Thailand. Eco Wave Power’s onshore WEC system holds the potential to offer an economically viable solution for low-income island communities, given its increased efficiency and attractive levelised cost of energy, the average lifetime costs of generating energy using a specific technology, in comparison to solar and diesel generators.
The Thai electrical state enterprise, PEA, will act as the microgrid operator in the islands and minimise the capital cost of electricity to provide an electricity tariff as cheap as monthly mobile charges without any asset ownership and maintenance cost for residents.
Since 2016, Eco Wave Power has operated a grid-connected onshore wave energy floaters array in Gibraltar, and it is currently finalising the construction of its second grid-connected wave energy array in Israel. The consortium chose WECs produced by Eco Wave Power for this project as they offer many competitive advantages regarding cost-efficiency, insurability, reliability, and environmental friendliness.
The new funding from Innovate UK adds to Queen Mary’s existing grant with Eco Wave Power, awarded by the Wohl Clean Growth Alliance. This grant aims to further develop and improve the control system for the Eco Wave Power WEC, to enable faster commercial roll out of the EWP technology. Along with the Innovate UK project it will help promote and facilitate establishment of a long-term research collaboration between Queen Mary and Eco Wave Power’s engineering team.