Can you tell us about CorPower’s heart based design for generating energy?
CorPower’s technology design is inspired by the pumping principles of the human heart. Our co-founder and inventor, Stig Lundbäck, was a medical doctor who spent many years building mechanical hearts - he had learnt a lot about the pumping principles. The heart has a muscle to pump blood outwards, but the refilling of the heart is done through hydraulically stored energy. Based on this, our wave energy converter has an overpressure that pushes the buoy down to the midpoint at the flotation level, wave swells pull the buoy upwards, while the stored pressure provides return force to drive the buoy downwards. This results in an equal energy production in both directions.
Has the device evolved over the past 10 years?
We have significantly advanced and industrialized the technology from the initial concept in 2012. We partnered with new inventors such as our lead scientist Dr. Jörgen Hals Todalshaug from NTNU in Norway, who did his PhD in wave energy control and hydrodynamics. In 2014 he invented the WaveSpring technology which today is our control technology and allows us to extract significantly more energy. We started with Lundbäck’s initial ideas, engineered it, and combined it with new inventions over time.
How has CorPower managed to achieve significantly high levels of efficiency and how does your technology compare to other products in the market?
There have been two challenges holding wave energy back - firstly, to survive the toughest storms. Secondly, to produce enough electricity compared to the size and cost of the equipment in order for it to be economically viable. Our design allows the device to be protected in storms, and unless we actively control this machine, it just lays there and lets waves sweep by. Secondly, the phase control technology strongly amplifies the motion and power capture in regular waves. Combining storm protection and efficient production in regular sea conditions allow us to deliver five times as much energy per amount of equipment. CorPower’s solution brings wave energy to similar same structural efficiency as modern wind turbines ..
What is the best way of financing wave energy today and do you believe that the market for wave energy will start regulating itself in the future?
Any product development program which is bringing technology like this to industrial readiness requires funding. In our early stages we relied on public grants for research, and with proof of concept we could go look at the Venture Capital (VC) and private investment markets. CorPower has secured about 65MEUR funding today, and we aim to close a EUR 50 million funding round by the end of the year to get to a bankable product and start shipping product to customers by 2025. We are involving both industrial strategic investors and VCs into this equity raise.
We expect to have the first commercial farms operating in 2026 – with Simply Blue Energy’s Saoirse project off west Ireland being one, and another project in Portugal. We also see interest from oil and gas installations looking to reduce CO2 emissions, which is a market where you can tolerate higher costs in the beginning - yet we also work with pure utility companies who are looking to power national grids and require public support to make the early commercial farms investable. We estimate that we need approximately 600 megawatts cumulative installation in the market to get us to a price point of about 65-70 EUR per megawatt hour, which will make us competitive with wind and solar in most markets, thanks to the consisting power profile each MW delivered has a higher value in the market.
In the future, energy markets will be much more about when you can deliver the power. Today, gas and coal is used to fill the gaps and stabilize solar and wind power, and we need additional clean solutions to transition to 100% renewables. Wave energy can help bring stability to the clean energy mix, allowing high penetration of renewables while balancing supply to demand at all times. This is key to accelerate the transition to 24/7 carbon free electricity.
Can you elaborate on how a wave energy project such as Saoirse would look like?
We design and deliver our technology as CorPack clusters which are blocks of units laid out side-by-side and come with a wave energy converter, mooring system, anchors, and the electrical collection system. We will typically sell these in sizes of 10 to 20 megawatts per cluster, which makes the unit size similar to an offshore wind turbine. Farm developers can decide to build standalone wave farms, or combined hybrid wind wave farms where you can place rows of wave energy clusters next to wind turbines, or in between the units. We have a modular approach to scale up wave energy where you make a lot of small devices, which means that you get to economies of scale and volume production earlier compared to if you make a single huge unit. Since each device is quite small, it lends itself well to local manufacturing. The high density clustering of small identical machines makes it highly efficient use of ocean space, up to 15 MW/km2.
What is your final message as to why the ocean is a place to find energy?
The biggest challenge for the world to transition 100% to renewables is the balancing - to provide clean electricity all hours of the year – and that is where ocean energy can play an important role.
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