Mocean Energy has been awarded £3.325 million by Wave Energy Scotland to develop its world-leading technology for sea trials in Orkney next year, as it targets the emerging global opportunity in marine energy.
The Edinburgh Innovations client is one of two companies selected by Scottish Government-funded WES for the third stage of its competitive programme to develop reliable and cost-effective wave energy generation.
Edinburgh-based Mocean Energy and Inverness-based AWS Ocean Energy will use the awards from WES, a combined £7.7m, to build half-scale machines and test them in real ocean conditions at the European Marine Energy Centre.
Mocean Energy was co-founded in 2013 by Edinburgh PhD graduates Cameron McNatt and Chris Retzler, and was supported by EI’s student service LAUNCH.ed when McNatt was studying for his PhD in Energy Systems. The company continues to receive support from EI.
“The award is a major achievement for us. We were selected through a multi-year technical development and staged review process in which we were competing against some of the best wave energy companies in the world.
“It will enable us to build and test a prototype of our device in the ocean, which serves as a jumping off point for us to prove our engineering capabilities, grow our team and attract customers and investors.”
– Cameron McNatt, co-founder, Mocean Energy
Mocean’s utility-scale wave energy design, Blue Horizon, consists of two floating hulls connected by a hinge. Waves cause motion at the hinge, driving a generator. A unique feature of the design is the shapes of the hulls, with a sloping, submerged nose and tail.
AWS has developed a submerged point absorber named the Archimedes Waveswing.
‘Most advanced devices’
Tim Hurst, Managing Director of WES, said: “These state-of-the-art designs represent the most advanced and innovative devices in the UK today, and our programme is ensuring that Scotland stays front and centre of the global wave energy story.
“Both devices have already proved their suitability during tank testing and in modelling and the next step is to test them in real-sea conditions.”
The winning designs were selected by WES’s “stage gate” process, with eight concepts narrowed to four over the course of four years. The two winning projects were then selected by a panel including independent external experts working through rigorous criteria to evaluate each submission.
The Scottish Government established WES in 2014 and has since provided more than £30 million to develop commercially available wave energy technologies and sub-systems.
Milestone for Scotland
At the award of the WES grants, Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, highlighted the potential of the wave power industry.
“Scotland’s capacity to generate wave power is very considerable indeed and wave energy devices represent real game-changers for the industry not only here in Scotland but on a global scale.
“The deployment of these two devices will represent a strategically important milestone for Scotland, demonstrating technical progress that will support identification of the most cost-effective technologies and encouraging private sector investment in this emerging industry.”
– Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands
Ocean observation demand
Alongside the Blue Horizon project, Mocean is developing a small-scale wave energy machine, Seabase, for the ocean observation sector.
“Seabase will be our first product to reach the market,” says McNatt. “It will require less investment, and there is market demand that is independent of government support. This will allow us to generate revenue and to learn by doing.”
McNatt first worked with LAUNCH.ed when he was a year into his PhD studies. Today, Mocean Energy is hosted at EI’s Enterprise Hub and the company continues to be supported by EI as it develops its business strategy.
“Edinburgh Innovations has supported me and Mocean Energy throughout this journey,” McNatt says. “Particularly at the very early stages, LAUNCH.ed and the wider Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem were absolutely essential in giving me the practical, financial and emotional support we needed, and we are extremely grateful.”
McNatt sees a bright future for both Mocean Energy and the industry as a whole. He says: “It is our ambition to be part of the clean ocean energy market and create jobs and exports for Scotland.”
Photograph: Mocean Energy co-founder Chris Retzler with a Blue Horizon prototype at the University of Edinburgh’s FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility. Photograph by Malcolm Cochrane