Stuart Brown, FloWave TT Ltd
If the CO2 emission reduction targets recently agreed at COP-21 are to be achieved, then a rapid and significant switch to clean renewable energy generation technologies is required. Offshore wind, solar PV and concentrated solar power are widely judged to be the three mature and maturing technologies that can deliver at the scale required within the time horizon. As they mature and scale up over the medium-long term, wave, tidal and on-grid storage will then be able to plug the resultant diurnal capacity gap resulting from so much solar on the network. Geographic location and density of resource will be key drivers of cost-efficient deployment of these clean technologies, with ocean-facing nations having the advantage in terms of both variety of resource options and the sea-space for large scale development. The difficulty however is that the ocean environment is a challenging one - designing for storm survivability as well as optimal energy generation in less extreme conditions is a delicate task, especially when experience is limited, technologies are new, and the target is the lowest possible cost of energy. Newer materials and left-field technology solutions have a significant role to play in addressing these challenges, but understanding behaviours in extreme as well as normal conditions will be key to successful adoption by project developers and their funders. The FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility was conceived and built by Edinburgh to recreate these challenging and ‘messy’ ocean conditions in all their complexity, and so allow new solutions to be tested in as accurate a simulation of the real world as possible. Though FloWave has already hosted soft materials testing (dielectric elastomers) for direct electricity generation from waves for the FP7 PolyWEC project, this short introductory talk will focus on some of the other applications for new materials in ocean energy, and how FloWave might help substantiate and validate the advantages claimed and so lead to faster adoption of new materials and solutions by the sector.