Giant wave tank for marine energy testing inaugurated

5 June 2014
By Edd Gent
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The FloWave facility can recreate waves and currents from coastlines around the UK and Europe [Credit: Brightspace]

The FloWave facility can recreate waves and currents from coastlines around the UK and Europe [Credit: Brightspace]

A giant wave tank designed to test marine energy devices has been officially inaugurated at the University of Edinburgh.

The FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility features a circular pool 25 metres across and two metres deep that can simulate scale version equivalents of waves up to 28 metres high and currents of up to 14 knots, using 2.4 million litres of water.

Guests at the facility, which is managed by University subsidiary company FloWave TT, watched as researchers demonstrated how it can recreate waves and currents from coastlines around the UK, Europe and beyond.

“We are delighted to mark the official launch of this pioneering facility, which will speed the development of devices to harness wave and current power, and further enhance the University’s position as a centre of excellence in marine energy research,” said Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea,
University Principal.

Researchers and industrial partners can use the facility, which has been operating for several months, to develop and refine full-scale devices such as wave and tidal energy converters, floating offshore wind platforms, and vessels to install and maintain offshore projects.

Testing devices at scale in a tank can enable research milestones to be achieved in days or weeks, compared with months or even years in open water, which the University hopes will bring clean energy products to market more quickly and cost-effectively, and at lower risk.

RenewableUK’s Wave and Tidal Development Manager, Dee Nunn, said: “The opening of Flowave adds a string to the bow of the UK’s suite of test facilities for marine energy and will contribute to maintaining the world-leading position of the UK in this sector.

“The facility will help improve reliability and reduce costs and the results could provide additional confidence to investors as we move towards the first commercial arrays.”

The £9.5m facility was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the University.

EPSRC chief executive Professor Philip Nelson said: “EPSRC’s investment in the FloWave facility will help keep the UK at the forefront of marine energy technology research and development. Research here can accelerate the deployment of these technologies which, in turn, will help us meet our low-carbon targets create jobs and boost growth.”

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