IMPACT research project awarded €3.3m for advanced testing of wave energy technologies
Italian engineering company VGA has announced the launch of the EU-funded IMPACT (Innovative Methods for Wave Energy Pathways Acceleration through Novel Criteria and Test Rigs) research project. Coordinated by VGA, IMPACT is a collaborative research and innovation project that will develop and demonstrate a next generation testing approach for Wave Energy Converters (WECs). Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the three-year €3.3m IMPACT project aims to accelerate testing device development and reduce the technology cost as part of a global advancement in wave energy converter technologies.
“The main objective of IMPACT is to design and manufacture two novel test rigs covering up to 75% of WEC subsystems that affect the WEC’s levelized cost of energy (LCOE). The innovative 250kW Dual Hardware In-the-Loop testing platform, novel test criteria and metrics aim to reduce the test time by 50% while increasing the WEC reliability,” explains Federico Gallorini, R&D manager at VGA and IMPACT project coordinator. Results will be demonstrated at two technical workshops in 2022-23.
Harnessing ocean power in Europe
If the challenging climate goals of the Paris Agreement are to be met, substantial investment in renewable energy technology is required now in order to make a difference. Wave and tidal energy is one of the last great opportunities for development of a significantly new renewable energy industry. Wave energy has the theoretical potential to meet the world’s entire energy demand. The long-term vision of the International Renewable Energy Agency is to have a worldwide installed capacity of 337 GW by 2050, but the installed capacity in 2019 was just 531 MW. European Energy Forum estimates conclude that wave energy could provide 10% of Europe’s power generation by 2050. However, radically different and slow development of present technologies limit that potential.
Cost reduction and reliability in focus
The Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission (EC) identified cost reduction and reliability as the main challenges for the wave energy sector to achieve competitive electricity costs. In particular, the EU recognizes the need for component and service standardization during early development.
“The creation of a testing platform addressing the key subsystems of all WEC types and standardized testing procedures, as proposed by this project, is therefore essential to accelerate the devices development, reduce the technology costs and meet the goals of the EC,” says Gallorini.
New testing platform
The proposed 250kW Dual Hardware-In-the-Loop (DHIL) testing platform is based on a technology which expands the capabilities of the already established Hardware-In-the-Loop technique. The DHIL platform combines together two rigs. One rig is for testing the entire drivetrain either linear or rotary, from input mechanical to grid compliant power. The second rig is for testing structural components, seals and mooring lines, either in dry or wet environment. Besides the management of the IMPACT project, VGA has the tasks of designing, manufacturing and operating the two test rigs. These tasks will exploit the experience that VGA has gathered over the past years in test rigs, one of the main core business of the company.
Industry involvement and demonstration
While five parties are involved in the project itself, other companies have joined the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) to help direct and guide the research. TAB members consist of possible end-users of the DHIL novel testing platform and/or the new methodologies to make it highly relevant to a wide cross-section of industry. Project research and results will be disseminated in two technical workshops. A methodologies and metrics focused workshop will be held at a future edition of the European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference, while the technology itself will be demonstrated at the VGA test facilities in Italy. In order to facilitate their implementation in future testing practices for the development of wave energy technologies, a publicly available report on the novel DHIL approach, methodologies and metrics will be released on the project website www.impact-h2020.eu.
IMPACT brings together cross-functional ocean energy and industrial engineering competence and testing facilities from four other partners across Europe:
Yavin Four Consultants brings together specialists in emerging offshore renewables to provide technical, commercial and strategic advice.
SINTEF Energy Research is a Norwegian not-for-profit research institute with great expertise in energy systems, smart grids and energy efficiency.
SINTEF Ocean brings an extensive focus on structural and hydrodynamic test laboratories, marine technology and biomarine research.
The University College Cork MaREI is a research centre with particular knowledge and expertise in the fields of laboratory testing as well as technoeconomic and environmental evaluation of ocean energy convertors.
You can find out more information about IMPACT and stay updated by signing up for the project newsletter at www.impact-h2020.eu
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101007071.
Federico Gallorini, VGA