Wave for Energy s.r.l. (W4E), a spin-off of the Polytechnic University of Turin, has deployed the first wave energy converter with gyroscopic architecture, supported by Enea and IAMC-CNR.
On August 7, the first Italian 1:1 scale device for the production of electricity from sea waves was moored 800 m from the coast of Pantelleria, Italy.
Research activities started 10 years ago and led to the development of the technology industrialized by Wave for Energy, spin-off of the University, which carried forward the construction of the first pre-commercial machine.
The technology, developed following the directives of the Blue Growth Strategy set out by the European Commission to support sustainable development in the maritime sector, is called ISWEC (Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter). After the first concept developed in 2006, experimental validation followed and was carried on with a 1: 8 system and conducted in the INSEAN’s towing tank.
In February 2012, the team started the work on the final full scale release, which is now ready for the deployment into the sea.
The wave power plant is composed of a gyroscopic group housed inside a watertight mono-hull vessel secured to the sea floor by a slack mooring line. The interaction between the sea waves, the hull and the gyroscopic system inside enables the generation of electricity, which can be then transferred to the grid.
W4E said that, compared to other systems under development in Europe, ISWEC is distinguished by the absence of parts in relative motion immersed the water, as the whole conversion group is allocated in a sealed environment inside the floating body. Furthermore, the device does not require fixed constraints on the seabed for its operation, but only a slack mooring, guaranteeing an extremely reduced environmental impact. Finally, the adaptability to changing wave conditions increases the productivity of the system in respect to competitors.
In the first operating phase, the system will not be connected to the island’s grid, but it will dissipate over an array of resistances. In September / October, an electric cable will be laid down to connect the machine to the grid.
The ISWEC technology is a valuable complement to the energy mix of smaller islands, within and outside the Mediterranean, and which are not directly connected to the main continental grids, W4E said.
The development of the project was possible thanks to the funding obtained from the Piedmont (Enermhy pole) and Sicily Regions and to the collaboration with ARIS spa, Landra S.r.l., UP Design s.r.l, Sirius Electronic System s.r.l., Miwt s.r.l., Power Evolution s.r.l., università di Catania, Asa impianti s.r.l., as well as the support in the development stages of Remacut s.r.l., SKF, SIEMENS e NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS and the contribution of the administration and the community of the island of Pantelleria.
The project also includes the utility Enel Green Power, which has the role of identifying technical and economical targets for the technology.