Euro Tidal Energy

June 18, 2018 Last Updated: June 18, 2018

A platform known as The Penguin, floating in the Atlantic Ocean off the Orkney Islands, produces energy using the movement of the waves. Since the Orkney Islands are something of a wave paradise, they were a logical location for installing and testing a such a prototype.

Timo Lotti, electrical engineer with Wello Oy, explains how it works. “When the wave is passing it, the hull starts rotational movement—the asymmetrical hull.” This movement is coupled with a generator. “Wave movement is converted into continuous rotation inside The Penguin.”

The prototype, installed in spring 2017, is anchored to the sea bed, 164 feet deep. Even during peak waves and extended periods of large waves last winter, The Penguin was fine, says control engineer David Cousins.

Submarine cables drive the harvested energy to a plant, where up to 7 megawatts can be stocked and later fed into the local grid. Feeding electricity into the grid allows developers to earn a return on electricity production during the testing period.

The system is controlled from labs at the Heriot-Watt University’s Orkney campus. Fiber optics help The Penguin send data to control engineers using about 40 to 50 different instruments. Researchers like Cousins can then tell what types of movements the waves are generating on the Penguin.

Researchers here see ‘The Penguin’ as a game changer in a market of wave energy. Wello Oy Chief Operating Officer Timo Lotti believes that, effectively put to use, technologies like The Penguin can make Europe and the whole world “a whole different place.”

The Penguin is one of many projects funded by the European Innovation Council initiative. The European Innovation Council, in response to data indicating the importance of innovation in modern developed economies, aims to encourage economic growth by helping the European Union’s most promising innovations.