How Wave Energy Scotland working with the DTOceanPlus project to create an industry benchmark

Scotland has ambitious renewable targets to meet, and wave energy has a vital role to play if its aspirations are to be realised.

The Stage Gate design tool will provide a standard for the wave energy sector and use data to encourage further growth
The Stage Gate design tool will provide a standard for the wave energy sector and use data to encourage further growth

Wave Energy Scotland (WES), set up in 2014, is leading the way in the sector, having funded over 95 contracts and made investments totalling more than £41 million.

One initiative in which WES is involved is the DTOceanPlus project that has a total budget of 8 million euros and is funded through the EU Research and Innovation Programme H2020.

The DTOcean consortium is a project managed by Tecnalia, a private, independent, non-profit applied research centre with roots in the Basque Country in north of Spain.

Others involved in the consortium developing a second generation of ocean energy design tools, known as DTOceanPlus, include Nova and Orbital.

They are using the experience of wave and tidal energy projects to support the entire ocean energy development process from the selection and development of sub-systems and energy capture devices to full array deployment.

Pablo Ruiz-Minguela, head of wave energy at Tecnalia, says: “In the wave energy sector, Tecnalia offers test and analysis services for materials and components in the ocean, collaborative research and development projects, turn-key projects and investment opportunities.”

The Stage Gate design tool is being developed as part of the DTOceanPlus programme. It will provide a standard for the wave energy sector and use data to encourage further growth.

When it is launched in August it will provide companies with a grade to show where they are in terms of progress. It will also give investors a key marker to indicate how far along a company is in its development. The DTOceanPlus suite of tools will be open source, so they will be freely available to download and use.

Jillian Henderson, research engineer at WES, describes the work the consortium has been doing to develop the Stage Gate tool. “WES has been working extensively on developing metrics to measure success in wave energy. By metrics, we mean the parameters which are measured and assessed to demonstrate success of an ocean energy technology or project,” she says. “Metrics have helped manage the competitive innovation call that is the WES programme, demonstrate success in technologies in the sector and enable comparison across different technologies.”

She adds that the Stage Gate design tool is just one of the modules within the DTOceanPlus project. It is designed to provide a framework to guide the user through a technology assessment process.

“One of the key benefits of the Stage Gate design tool is that it brings a standardised structure to the development of ocean energy technologies,” adds Henderson. “This means that companies in the industry can benchmark their progress against defined targets and potential investors can compare technologies objectively.

“Splitting the technology development pathway up into clear, defined stages with measures of success, brings clarity and transparency to the development process.”

The tool will address one of the biggest challenges facing ocean energy at the moment - the lack of consensus in design. This issue makes the assessment and comparison of technologies difficult as wave and tidal energy devices can behave and perform in very different ways, according to WES.

The new tool will allow a standardised measure of the benchmarks of success that will help reduce the risk to investors when they are looking to fund new technologies.

Ben Hudson, research engineer at WES, says: “The software is primarily being developed using the popular Python programming language. JavaScript and the JavaScript framework known as Vue.js are being used to develop the Graphical User Interface (GUI), but the bulk of software development has involved the use of Python.

“A collaborative agile approach has been taken with respect to the development. Each module in the suite of tools was first developed in a ‘standalone mode’, meaning they all function independently. The next step will be to integrate the tools so they can communicate and operate together seamlessly.

“Crucially, the project has the benefit of having several industrial partners who will provide their real deployed project data to demonstrate the tools. These are wave energy technologies from Corpower and IDOM and tidal energy technologies from Nova Innovation, Orbital Marine Power and Sabella. The benefit of having real project data is that the DTO+ suite of tools will be demonstrated with realistic use cases which will validate the tools before final release.”

Ruiz-Minguela adds: “The DTOceanPlus project aims to accelerate the development of the ocean energy sector aligning innovation and development processes with those used in mature engineering sectors.”

“This suite of design tools will reduce the technical and financial risks of devices and arrays to achieve the deployment of cost-competitive wave and tidal arrays.”