This program allowed further advancing the development of a novel type of wave energy converter, a Cycloidal Wave Energy Converter or CycWEC. A CycWEC consists of one or more hydrofoils rotating around a central shaft, and operates fully submerged beneath the water surface. It operates under feedback control sensing the incoming waves, and converts wave power to shaft power directly without any intermediate power take off system. Previous research consisting of numerical simulations and two dimensional small 1:300 scale wave flume experiments had indicated wave cancellation efficiencies beyond 95%.
The present work was centered on construction and testing of a 1:10 scale model and conducting two testing campaigns in a three dimensional wave basin. These experiments allowed for the first time for direct measurement of electrical power generated as well as the interaction of the CycWEC in a three dimensional environment. The Atargis team successfully conducted two testing campaigns at the Texas A&M Offshore Technology Research Center and was able to demonstrate electricity generation. In addition, three dimensional wave diffraction results show the ability to achieve wave focusing, thus increasing the amount of wave power that can be extracted beyond what was expected from earlier two dimensional investigations. Numerical results showed wave cancellation efficiencies for irregular waves to be on par with results for regular waves over a wide range of wave lengths. Using the results from previous simulations and experiments a full scale prototype was designed and its performance in a North Atlantic wave climate of average 30kW/m of wave crest was estimated. A full scale WEC with a blade span of 150m will deliver a design power of 5MW at an estimated levelized cost of energy (LCOE) in the range of 10-17 US cents per kWh. Based on the new results achieved in the 1:10 scale experiments these estimates appear conservative and the likely performance at full scale will exceed this initial performance estimates.
In advancing the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of this type of wave energy converter from 3 to 4, we find the CycWEC to exceed our initial estimates in terms of hydrodynamic performance. Once fully developed and optimized, it has the potential to not just outperform all other WEC technologies, but to also deliver power at a lower LCOE than competing conventional renewables like wind and solar. Given the large wave power resource both domestically and internationally, this technology has the potential to lead to a large improvement in our ability to produce clean electricity at affordable cost.