During a seminar held last night, organised by KIVI and hosted by SBM offshore, details of SBM Offshore’s work in wave energy was presented to a group of offshore professionals.
As presenter Ambroise Wattez, business development manager Renewables & Offshore Energy Systems at SBM Offshore deduced, many consider renewables to be too costly to venture into. It is quite the opposite, he stated, with the LCOE much lower than that of conventional power resources, such as nuclear and oil and gas.
164% of Scotland’s country electricity demand is provided by Scotland Wind Energy. The country aims to obtain 100% of energy consumption from renewables in 2020. In fact, wave energy research started in Edinburgh, in a response to oil shortage, in the 1970s with a device invented by Stephen Salter at Edinburgh University and was aptly called the Salter’s Duck.
SBM Offshore has been involved in wave energy since 2006, when the company decided it was very much worth looking into renewables due to their vast offshore experience. They dabbled with various ideas and prototypes, but abandoned these as they were too large, too inherently bulky and with operational costs proving to be too high. Plus, they found that the structure would not age well in the water.
SBM S3 concept
So, the company went back to basics and decided on a new approach. A wish list ensued containing: the product should be able to combine power conversion function and hull structure without complex mechanical parts. It needed to be silent and should not require routine maintenance. They did much research into developing a device that does not require mechanical components to generate electric power, but is based on Electro-Active Polymer (EAP) material. Enter: SBM S3 concept, a wave energy converter (or WEC), which put simply, is a fully flexible tube filled with water at both ends. This, according to the company, creates a multimodal response and thanks to the electro-active polymer the energy can be converted directly (which has a 2MW average) The tube has a 2-4 metre diameter and is 200 to 400 metres long. This concept offers a promising solution for a WEC that is easy to moor, does not require maintenance and is not prone to fatigue damage: absolutely the characteristics required to build a business case for wave energy with a competitive LCOE.
Marine energy will be part of Offshore Energy 2016 (OEEC), mainly during the Marine Energy Event.