High Speed Electrical Power Conversion for Oscillating Water Columns
Neil Hodgins (EPSRC Industrial CASE Award with Wavegen)
Supervisors: Dr Markus Mueller, Dr John Chick
It is widely accepted that 10% of the UK electricity needs could be met from marine energy, principally off the NW coast of Scotland, and thus make a significant contribution to the reduction in CO2 emissions. The Oscillating Water Column (OWC) used in the LIMPET device, operated by Wavegen, has proved the feasibility of extracting energy from waves, and can be applied both on and offshore. Wavegen have identified a clear potential in making use of existing and new-build breakwater structures to extract wavepower using low powered OWCs. In their initial testing of a prototype device on Islay they have realised that the electrical generation system has to be different to the one used in the LIMPET main power outlet. In order to obtain optimum efficiency from the directly coupled air turbine it is necessary to operate over a wide speed range so the applied damping generated by the unit maintains its matching with the energy in the collector. The entire system from wave to wire will be simulated in Simulink and the results correlated to the current set up. The simulations will be used to compare the technologies and develop control strategies for the 20kW device. Based upon the simulation results a prototype system will be built and tested in the laboratory at Edinburgh, which will allow demonstration of the system and verification of the simulation results. If possible the system will be installed and tested on the 20kW device in LIMPET.