CorPower Ocean’s C4 Wave Energy Converter proven at commercial scale

CorPower Ocean C4 Wave Energy Converter
CorPower Ocean's C4 Wave Energy Converter successfully finished its initial ocean testing phase at the Aguçadoura location in northern Portugal. Images courtesy CorPower Ocean

In the quest for renewable energy solutions, wave energy presents a vast, largely untapped potential. CorPower Ocean, a Swedish innovator, is at the forefront of this field with its C4 Wave Energy Converter (WEC), which recently completed its initial operational phase at the Aguçadoura site in northern Portugal. This marks a significant step towards making wave energy commercially viable, addressing two longstanding challenges: device survivability in extreme sea conditions and efficient power generation in normal ocean conditions.

The C4 device employs a unique approach inspired by the human heart’s mechanics. It uses a buoy shape to maximize energy capture from ocean waves. Anchored to the seabed, the device oscillates with the waves, driving a pump that creates a pressure differential, which in turn powers a generator to produce electricity. This electricity is transmitted to an onshore grid through a sub-sea cable. Designed to withstand rough seas, the C4 features an inherent storm protection mechanism, ensuring resilience and enhancing operational reliability.

WaveSpring technology is central to the C4’s innovative design. This novel phase control mechanism allows the device to synchronize with wave patterns, significantly amplifying its motion and power output. This technology, combined with a lightweight design, enables the Wave Energy Converter to produce five times more energy per tonne than conventional wave energy devices.

Advanced control technology allows the C4 to adjust its operational mode based on sea conditions. It can become transparent to incoming waves during severe storms to avoid damage, while in normal sea states, it tunes to the waves, maximizing motion and energy capture. This adaptability ensures both the device’s longevity and operational efficiency.

CorPower Ocean C4 WEC WaveSpring Tech
CorPower says that WaveSpring technology amplifies the motion and power capture, tripling energy output relative to buoy size and significantly enhancing cost efficiency.

The C4’s recent operational tests demonstrated its durability against four major storms and its quick recovery to resume operations and power export afterward. This testing phase provided valuable data for calibrating the system’s digital twin, an extensive numerical model predicting the system’s behavior. Notably, the measured motion and power output slightly exceeded the digital twin’s predictions, affirming the device’s effective design and operational efficiency.

After its initial deployment, the C4 was brought back to CorPower Ocean’s on-land base for maintenance and upgrades, informed by insights from the first operational phase. The upcoming redeployment aims to demonstrate the system’s full power capacity and further advancements in control methods, critical for affirming the device’s commercial scalability and conducting a comprehensive power performance assessment.

CorPower Ocean C4 WEC Storm Survivability
On November 4th, 2023, onboard sensors recorded wave heights up to 18.5m, while gearbox encoders showed the machinery’s motion was reduced to a few decimeters, highlighting storm survivability as a critical achievement of the C4 ocean demonstration.

CorPower Ocean’s technology is notable not only for its technical achievements but also for its environmental considerations. The C4 utilizes a composite buoy, a tensioned mooring system, and UMACK anchors, which outperform traditional anchoring methods in terms of holding capacity, cost, and carbon footprint. These innovations underscore CorPower Ocean’s commitment to sustainable renewable energy technologies.

The commercialization of wave energy technology like the C4 Wave Energy Converter hinges on achieving operational efficiency and scalability. While specific pricing information is not yet available, these factors will be crucial in determining the cost-effectiveness of wave energy and shaping its market potential.

CorPower Ocean C4 WEC Tuned Detuned Optimized
CorPower Ocean’s WECs utilize tuning and detuning akin to wind turbines’ blade pitching, optimizing energy yield in normal conditions and minimizing loads during storms.

CorPower Ocean’s achievements with the C4 device underscore the feasibility of wave energy as a significant contributor to the renewable energy mix. Overcoming the challenges of survivability and efficient power generation, the C4 Wave Energy Converter’s ongoing and future operational phases will be instrumental in demonstrating wave energy’s viability and its role in achieving a sustainable energy future.

The integration of wave energy into the global energy portfolio offers a promising avenue towards diversifying renewable energy sources. As CorPower Ocean continues to refine its technology and expand its operational evidence, the wave energy sector moves closer to realizing its potential, providing a clean, sustainable, and resilient power source for the world.

CorPower Ocean C4 WEC UMACK Anchor
UMACK anchors outperform gravity anchors and conventional monopiles in terms of holding capacity, cost and carbon footprint.

Source: CorPower Ocean