Expertise is just the beginning…
Marine Power Systems Ltd (MPS) is a wave power technology development company. Based in South Wales (UK) the company was co-founded in 2008 by Swansea University engineering graduates Dr Gareth Stockman and Dr Graham Foster with the sole purpose to develop and bring to market its WaveSub wave energy converter.
MPS is dedicated to developing a device which can offer the most affordable, reliable and scalable offshore wave technology in the world. The WaveSub, which is designed and built in Wales, has the potential to substantially reduce the costs of energy generation from waves.
Approaching a key milestone
Funded by a mix of founder, private and public sector investment, MPS has completed the first and second phases of development and is currently undertaking Phase Three; the build and testing of a quarter-scale prototype.
The test programme is currently taking place at FaBTest in Falmouth, Cornwall. The project is being conducted with support from many local Welsh businesses in the local supply chain including Marine Energy Pembrokeshire, Swansea University, Pembrokeshire Port and the Welsh Government as well as business and academic institutions throughout Europe.
MPS’s long-term vision is to take its product to a commercial market and become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of multi-megawatt wave energy devices which can generate clean, affordable, reliable energy for countries around the globe.
Our story so far…
The WaveSub was originally invented after a detailed study of the requirements for an improved method of wave energy extraction and understanding the problems preventing devices reaching commercialisation.
MPS quickly raised sufficient capital to develop and test a small-scale model of their WaveSub.
The first WaveSub patent was filed in July 2008 and following this a thorough review and benchmarking exercise was carried out. The result was that the WaveSub offered substantial advantages over existing devices and the decision was made to form a company to develop the WaveSub.
Phase 1 of the WaveSub development delivered a prototype device that underwent successful sea trials and energy generation tests. The advantages and operating principles were proven by this prototype.
Sea Trials at Weymouth
The prototype sea trials demonstrated at scale that the WaveSub could be easily towed; attaining a stable, buoyant surface configuration; descend to its operating configuration remotely controlled; the systems was capable of generating power; the device could easily be recovered through remote control and towed back to shore.
Power Generation Test at National Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC)
The power generation testing carried out at NaREC tanks was extremely successful and proved the ability of the WaveSub to convert wave energy to electrical power.
Grant support for this phase was awarded by the Welsh Government.
MPS completed significant concept development during 2010. A robust computational simulation study was undertaken in order to optimise and determine the power output of the WaveSub across the broad spectrum of sea states in which the device will operate.
In addition, during this period, MPS raised further private investment to allow the company to design & manufacture a more sophisticated prototype to test the further innovations for the wave energy converter.
MPS were awarded an Industrial Research & Development grant from the Welsh Government. Matched by the private investment received, the team could now embark on the manufacture and testing of the new WaveSub prototype and complete the computational modelling programme, which ultimately would feed into the Cost of Energy Study.
Phase 2 was a year-long desk engineering study with the aim of fully understanding how the advantages of the WaveSub would translate into a low levelised cost of energy. This project comprised: an energy generation simulation exercise, design feasibility and costings of all parts of the WaveSub structure, installation and systems; and the costing of a maintenance plan for the WaveSub. All cost of energy calculations were carried out in-line with best practices established by the Carbon Trust and the ETI.
The results of this study further validated that the advantages of the WaveSub translate into a device capable of achieving a highly competitive cost of energy. As a result of this phase, MPS and its shareholders made the decision to proceed with the design & manufacture a 1:4 scale prototype to demonstrate the device at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6.
In addition, MPS continued in parallel completing tank testing of the 1:25th scale prototype at the Plymouth COAST laboratory. Detailed analysis allowed to the team to accrue further data and increase knowledge of optimising the technology.
An application for further grant funding to support the detailed design of the 1:4 scale prototype was made to the Welsh Government.
MPS was awarded a RD&I Grant from the Welsh Government. Matched with private funds from MPS, this grant allowed the company to develop a detailed design specification for the 1:4 scale WaveSub prototype. In addition, identify industry experts with the experience and capability to manufacture the innovative device.
During this period MPS gained recognition, winning a number of Innovation Awards for the WaveSub concept.
MPS was awarded a SMARTCymru Award. This allowed the MPS team to move towards completion of the 1:4 scale WaveSub prototype, ahead of manufacturing. The grant also allowed tank testing at the Plymouth COAST Laboratory, so that the design could be validated and optimised.
Significant private investment was raised to enable the 1:4 scale prototype to begin manufacturing for deployment at sea. MPS were delighted to be awarded European Regional Development Funding to support the costs of manufacturing and operational testing in the UK.
Due to the significant private investment and grant support, the 1:4 scale prototype was significantly advanced in manufacture throughout 2016, utilising a highly-experienced supply chain.
In parallel, tank testing continued at Plymouth COAST Laboratory, to determine a power matrix to ascertain the expected power output at sea, which could then be validated during the subsequent sea trials. This work was supported by a highly competitive Innovate UK grant, with the design, manufacture and testing carried out in partnership with the University of Bath and ASTUTE from Swansea University.
Manufacture of the 1:4 scale prototype has been completed, along with shoreside commissioning, initial tow trials and submergence testing/remote operation of the device.
WaveSub has successfully been deployed at the marine test centre FaBTest in Falmouth (England), marking a new phase of sea based testing.
The WaveSub has completed the 169 nautical mile tow from Milford Haven to the FaBTest site in under 30 hours. Towing at speeds of up to 6 knots, the successful tow already has proven some of the key innovations of the WaveSub, such as the device can be towed significant distances from a ‘manufacturing base’ to a ‘wave farm location’.
The four point mooring system was installed in less than three days, before connecting the device with the power umbilical and submerging the device to its operating configuration. Tow out of the device from Falmouth harbour to the site and connection to the mooring lines took only a few hours. The WaveSub is already demonstrating that it can easily be towed to site with low cost vessels, it is simple to install and connect to ‘grid’ and that it can be accessed at sea; all of which will ultimately result in significantly lower operation & maintenance costs.