The ringing in of 2011 saw the deployment of the Power Take Off system (PTO) of the first 300 kW WaveRoller power plant entering its final bench-test phase. The PTO comprises components from four different subcontractors. To ensure the compatibility of these components in on-shore conditions, the AW- Energy crew will run a test program for final verifica- tion and adjustments.
The pilot creates an artificial environment that repli- cates actual subsea conditions as closely as possible. A test rig constructed around the WaveRoller unit gen- erates artificial “waves” to which the system responds.
A computer controlled triple ram simulating the flap pushes the WaveRoller’s massive hydraulic ram back and forth to recreate several different wave states. The team is able to reproduce wave conditions similar to those to be found in the deployment area.
The tests are costly but they are crucial for validating that all elements of the power plant work together effectively, including the hydraulic ram, generator and phase frequency converter. The pilot is also important for confirming the results of previous tank tests, com- putational simulations and smaller scale trials. At the same time the automation system that controls the PTO will be “factory tuned” to offer optimal resistance to each wave to generate as much energy as possible.
Although the system can tolerate wave peaks similar to those present in stormy conditions, the real chal- lenge is to extract power from smaller swells. In ideal conditions the WaveRoller is able to transform up to 40 percent of the power of the wave into electricity. This is much higher than the level of efficiency pro- vided by most other renewable energy technologies.
Once the simulation tests have been satisfactorily completed the PTO will be installed in the machine room block and in February, the entire power plant will undergo mechanical tests. Finally, once the plant has been shipped to the deployment site in Peniche, Portugal in mid-2011, the flap will be installed and tested before commissioning.