Wave Energy

The researcher helps the wave power industry forward

​With the ocean covering approximately 72% of the earth’s surface, wave energy is thereby holding great potential to satisfy a significant percentage of the worldwide energy supply. The challenge is to reduce costs and improve the performance of wave energy systems. In that case, the Chalmers researcher Shun-Han Yang has helped the industry to boost their positions.
Shun-Han Yang is a researcher at the Department of Mechanics and Maritime Sciences at the Division of Marine Technology. She has developed a numerical analysis procedure that can be used for assessing the long-term structural service life of the components used in wave energy systems. 

“The procedure allows the industry to assess the damage the waves impose mooring devices and power cables, etc., while calculating the wave power system’s power performance and energy cost” says Shun-Han Yang. 

The developed methodology has supported the industry and taken them from a stage of concept design validation to a full-scale prototype testing at sea. In technical terms from at TRL-level* of 3-4 to a TRL-level of 6-7. By using the numerical method, the potential structural failure or operation obstacles are identified, which would otherwise be devastating if the situation was encountered in reality. 

Jonas Kamf is CEO of Waves4Power, one of the industrial partners that Chalmers cooperates with. He explains that Waves4Power is a company under development with limited resources and therefore a strong partner network becomes a key resource. He sees Chalmers as an extra important partner for their business. 

“It's a lot of idea development but also verification of results from our test activities. Real results are set against theoretical calculations and in this way, we can link theory and reality in order to get even closer to reality in our forward-looking work” says Jonas Kamf. 

The collaboration with Chalmers in various fields also opens up for Waves4Power to be able to apply for extra financial support for technical development that would otherwise have been difficult to take part in. The connection between academia and industry is very important for this part of their development financing, he says, but perhaps even more importantly he sees Chalmers as a partner who can make them more realistic. 

“As a research resource, Chalmers is trustworthy and gives us as a collaborative partner an honest image, not a glorified picture of our reality. It’s easy to become blind in a development company and just see advantages. In this way, Chalmers is good at taking us down to earth and show us the reality as it is. It has laid a good foundation for good work in research and development.” 

For Chalmers, collaboration is a prerequisite for research. Shun-Han Yang believes that the close cooperation between academia and industry is what made her research possible. 

“To ensure the practicality of the numerical method, constant feedback given by the industry which highlights that challenges are necessary” says Shun-Han Yang. 

Waves4Power expects that within the next two years they will be fully commercial with a couple of installed wave power parks based on their latest technology, but it will continue to be a technology in development and Chalmers is a key resource.

*TRL, Technology readiness levels are a method of estimating technology maturity of critical technology elements of a program during the acquisition process. They are determined during a technology readiness assessment that examines program concepts, technology requirements, and demonstrated technology capabilities.

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Division of Marine Technology

Published: Fri 26 Apr 2019.