Wave Power

- who made it to the grid?

Wave Power - status

30 Jan 2019    By Poul Madsen           

Years ago, just after the turn of the century, wave power was seen as a promising technology with a bright future. A great number of wave power projects was launched. But 10 years later, lots of projects have been swallowed by the waves. This blog looks at a some of the projects which have actually made it to the grid.

The dilemma

Experts told developers to seek deep waters because deep waters is where the biggest and most powerful waves are found. One of the most promising Wave Energy Converters (WEC) was the Scottish Pelamis WEC launched off the coast of Portugal, however, the monstrously sized sea snake suffered a major blow due to technical malfunction.

It seems the strategy was wrong. Maybe it should have been "keep it simple" or "keep it at manageable proportions". The mooring for example seems to have been a major challenge. A list of challenges include:
- maintenance and repair
- salt water environment
- mechanical wear and tear
- reliable power output

One of the developers who failed - though he has decided to try again - is Per Resen Steenstrup from Denmark. Resen was the man behind the Wavestar project, which suffered a drowning in 2016. In an interview in 2017 on TV Midtvest Resen says that investors pushed the wave projects too hard into big devices. He compares with the wind turbines, which needed 35 years to go from a few hundred watts to Mega watt devices. Check out Resen's website, resenwaves.com.

Criteria for success

Now, to say that a WEC has become grid connected could be seen as a criteria for success itself. However, some of the WECs which are grid connected, are connected through a test site. Or maybe the WEC delivers power to a battery on a remote island. Rather, a WEC that has passed all tests and is now on sale, is the ultimate sign for completion. But let us have a look at some of the most successfull WECs by January 2019.

Carnegie CETO

Carnegie, an Australian Perth based company, has developed the CETO, which probably is among the most advanced stage of the process towards sale. According to sciencealert.com in Feb 2015, CETO 5 was the world's first grid connected WEC.

offgridenergyindependence.com wrote, that Carnegie's new CETO 6 would be part of the Albany Wave Energy Project over a 12 months period. If successfull, Carnegie planned to develop a 20 MW wave power park.

However, late 2018 the ABC news medie announced, that Carnegie had suffered a major set back not because of technical failures or difficulties but because of lack of funding. Among complaints was that no reports on the amount of power generated by the CETO 5 had been published.

Waves for Power

Sweden based Waves4Power had their WaveEL buoy deployed at the Runde test site in February 2016.

In June 2017 the company announced that their full scale demo plant now was connected to the Norwegian grid. A few months later though, in November 2017, the company had to disconnect the buoy due to an mooring damage.

According to Maritime Journal, the WaveEL 4.0 is to be deployed later, and Waves 4 Power have had discussions with Isles of Scilly regarding a wave project park.(10)

Eco Wave Power

According to multivu.com, Isreal based company Eco Wave Power started developing its wave power device with floaters that move up and down with the waves. By May 2016 the company established an array of floaters on a pier in the harbour of Gibraltar and stated it was the first array of wave power generators to be connected to the grid in Europe.

According to MarineEnergy.biz, the wave power plant has been in operation more than 15,000 hours delivering power for its customer, the Gibraltar Electric Authority.

In July 2017 the company announced that it would be building a 4.1 MW wave power plant in the Cuyutlán-Tepalcates beach area of Manzanillo, Mexico.

Wello Penguin

Finnish company Wello OY has developed its WEC named the Penguin. It's buoy (or boat) 30 m long and weighing 220 ton. The output is 600 kW according to Wello's own data. The Penguin was towed to the EMEC at the Orkney Islands to be tested, and here it was connected to the grid in April 2017.

According to MarineEnergy.biz in August 2018 the further developed Penguin WEC 2 left the shipyard in Tallin and travelled to the Orkneys to join its sibling. The output was said to have increased by 110 %.


The Swedish company Seabased was formed in 2006. By 2015 the company had successfully developed its WEC, a system of point absorbers on the surface connected to linear generators on the seabed. In Dec 2015 Subseaworldnews.com reported, that the WECs had been installed at Sötenäs off the coast of Sweden and connected to the Swedish national grid.

Two years laters waterpowermagazine.com wrote that the Finnish Energy company Fortum had aquired stakes in Seabased. According to the waterpowermagazine.com, Oivind Magnussen, Seabased's CEO, said that "...a major player such as Fortum onboard is a commitment in Seabased as we move towards commercialisation".

But then in mid Jan 2019 Seabased announced on its website that the company's production and maintenance facility at Lysekil would be closed down. The production would potentially be taken over by facilities in Brevik, Norway and Seabased believed the Sotenäs WECs could carry on.

OPT Powerbuoy

Based in New Jersey, USA, Ocean Power Technologies has developed wave power devices for many years. By 2007 the company had developed a certified connection ready for the grid. In Dec 2009 the company's PowerBuoy (a point absorber) was placed in the waters nearly one mile off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Since then, it has logged thousands of hours of power production. Ref.: .

The PowerBuoy was fully operational during the 2 days of hurricane Irene, which battered the coast of New Jersey in 2011. According to Businesswire.com the Powerbuoy withstood waveheights of up to 15 meters.

Having been connected to the grid at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Oahu in 2010, the Powerbuoy was decommisioned in 2011. The company has since developed its Powerbuoy PB3, which according to Ocean Power Technologies is commercial ready. The buoy measures 13 meters in height, weighs 8.3 ton and its output is 3 kW with peaks up to 7.5 kW. Its inbuilt battery has a capacity of 50 kWh (scalable up to 150 kWh).


The title of being the world's first grid connected WEC should possibly be awarded Wavegen's LIMPET, which was installed in 2000 at Islay off the west coast of Scotland. The 3 column OWC device was capable of generating 500 kW power. The device, which was 21 meters wide device and built 17 meters inland from the shore, was decommisioned in 2018. Limpet was never intended to become a commercial saleable device. Instead, the data from many years of research created the platform for building the next generation of the Limpet device. Ref.: tethys.pnnl.gov.

Wavegen since developed a device capable of delivering an output of 296 kW. 16 turbines were built onto a breakwater at Mutriku on the north coast east of Bilboa in the Basque Country, Spain. From its commision in July 2011 and up to 2018, the WEC has supplied the grid with more than 1.6GWh of power.

According to renewable-technology.com the 16 turbines, each measuring nearly 3 meters in diameter, take up 100 meters of the length of the breakwater at Mutriku.



Rather than getting depressed by reading about environmental devastation, I wish to focus on solutions. This blog surfs news from the web to support solution providers and those who take action.

It is human's responsibility to show consideration and respect to our surroundings. People have a choice, animals don't.

Poul Madsen