Innovative technologies and a huge energy potential are shaping the future of wave power which can become the next global trend within renewable energy. The global power cable provider NKT has embarked on the journey to produce energy from the sea and has developed two unique cables designed to withstand the continuous movements of the waves. The innovative low- and medium voltage cables are currently being tested in a pilot project Northwest of Norway in collaboration with the Swedish company Waves4Power, which has developed the purpose-built wave power system
Oceans of potential
The EU expects wave power to supply 15 % of European energy consumption by 2050, and the International Energy Agency estimates the global potential for wave power to be 80,000 TWh, which will more than meet the world's energy need.
- We see a huge potential in the future of wave power, and as a leading power cable provider NKT naturally wishes to join the innovative companies working to develop this potential. NKT is committed to designing cables that will shape the future by enabling efficient and sustainable energy transmission. It is therefore a logical step for us to be a partner in this ambitious project, says Frida Norrbom Sams, Executive Vice President and Head of Applications covering low- and medium voltage cables in NKT.
For the project in Norway, NKT has developed a unique and extremely dynamic 1 kV cable as well as a semi-dynamic 24 kV export cable that transports the energy produced to the shore. Both cables are also being tested in cooperation with Chalmers University of Technology in the high voltage test centre at RISE institute of Sweden.
Dynamic innovation for harsh environment
New technologies are needed if waves are to be the future of renewable energy, and several companies across the world are currently testing different wave power systems. One of the main challenges is the harsh ocean environment. For NKT the flexibility and endurance of the wave power cables have been a key focus in the cable development process.
The new 1 kV cable is extremely dynamic and can withstand the constant bending produced by the wave movement, and it has been designed based on our experience with industrial and universal cables. The core of the cable has three copper conductors and a very low mechanical friction. Unlike a normal offshore cable, it does not have an armoured sheath but is reinforced with aramid yarn which makes it very tough and flexible, says Frida Norrbom Sams.
The wave power system began delivering electricity to the Norwegian land-based power grid on June 2 2017 when the 24 kV semi-dynamic export cable was connected.
Waves4Power is a Swedish company testing a wave power system in the sea Northwest of Norway. The system is developed in cooperation with partners including NKT, Siemens, Jotun, Parker and Petronas.
The wave power system is based on a unique design:
- A buoy with a piston generates energy from the movement of the waves
- The energy is transmitted from the buoy to a collection hub by a 1 kV cable from NKT
- A transformer increases the voltage level to 22 kV so it is ready for the local power grid
- A 24 kV semi-dynamic cable from NKT exports the energy produced from the collection hub to the onshore power grid
The wave power system is scalable and easy to customise with additional energy buoys and collection hubs. The pilot project in Norway was formally launched in September 2017.