A new mooring, anchoring, and quick connect solution optimised for marine energy systems is set for Atlantic sea trials, following a range of laboratory and on-land test campaigns currently underway.
The €3.7 million UMACK (Universal Mooring, Anchor & Connectivity Kit) Project has developed a unique mooring and anchoring solution aimed at superseding widely used ‘gravity-based’ anchor solutions – reducing CAPEX, installation and operational and maintenance (O&M) costs by more than 50%.
The UMACK solution also addresses fundamental challenges to improve the reliable operation of ocean energy devices in the harshest ocean conditions.
UMACK Project Manager and CorPower Ocean Head of Projects Matt Dickson said the innovative technology is being developed as a universal and adaptable solution for a broad range of marine energy applications and seabed types. UMACK presents a step change in technology for the ocean energy space addressing the affordability, durability, and reliability of marine power systems’ mooring and anchoring.
On-land anchor testing is currently underway at the world-renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy System (IWES) in co-operation with the Test Centre for Support Structures (TTH) of the Leibniz University of Hannover.
The UMACK project will finish by demonstrating the UMACK solution integrated with CorPower Ocean’s C4 Wave Energy Converter (WEC) in real ocean operating conditions. The company’s full scale WEC demonstration programme HiWave-5 runs in parallel with the UMACK project, with the first full scale system scheduled for ocean deployment towards the end of 2021. CorPower’s WECs take the form of heaving buoys which float on the water surface absorbing energy from ocean waves, while connected to the sea floor via the UMACK system.
UMACK’s new quick-connect solution is fully surface operated removing the need for dive support and streamlining marine operations and vessel requirements. It further eases the installation and retrieval of marine energy devices while maximising operational windows.
The UMACK Project is led by a European consortium including geotechnical specialist Ternan Energy, wave and tidal energy developers CorPower Ocean and Sustainable Marine Energy Limited, mooring experts TTI Marine Renewables, EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre), and marine renewable energy modelling experts from the University of Edinburgh.
“This project collaboration has reimagined the traditional mooring and anchoring process,” said Mr Dickson. “The consortium has worked intensively for several years taking the UMACK concept from the drawing board, through multiple design, development and test phases, to construction, subsystem testing and now the upcoming open ocean testing towards the end of 2021. The forthcoming open ocean trials mark a tremendously exciting period, and an important stage in a long and rigorous validation process. The project is aiming to demonstrate how improved strategies and reduced downtime afforded by the novel UMACK system can decrease levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for a broad range of marine energy platforms.”
Ternan Energy Geotechnical Engineer Catriona Macdonald said: “Mooring solutions continue to present significant challenges across the marine energy industry. The UMACK consortium has joined forces to develop a more efficient and cost-effect solution which can be shared universally, benefiting not only wave and tidal, but extending to other areas such as floating offshore wind. Ternan has specifically been providing geotechnical and anchor design support, with a particular focus on investigating the practical deployment of novel anchor solutions such as screw piles and mesh anchors for offshore structures.”
Sustainable Marine CEO Jason Hayman said: “The UMACK Project offers ‘world-first’ technology enabling a step change in the deployment of marine energy mooring systems. As a joint-industry initiative, we have pooled our expertise while maintaining a firm focus on streamlining the entire mooring system including Sustainable Marine’s anchoring solutions that are required to drive maximum cost efficiency. The resultant anchoring and mooring technology offers major benefits to the emerging ocean energy market, improving reliability, reducing LCOE and accelerating progression towards large scale commercialisation.”
TTI Marine Renewables Director Ben Yeats said: “This wide-reaching collaboration tackles fundamental issues regarding foundation mooring, which can be both costly and time-consuming from the O&M standpoint. It has hampered the progress and development of emerging ocean energy tech such as wave and tidal for some years. The UMACK project aims to demonstrate how improved strategies and reduced downtime afforded by the system will ultimately decrease LCOE and increase energy return on investment.”
Henry Jeffrey, Head of Policy and Innovation Group, Institute for Energy Systems at the University of Edinburgh said: “Modelling experts from our Policy and Innovation Group are analysing the economic and environmental impact of the proposed UMACK system. We are using a global economic model containing LCOE and life-cycle assessment (LCA) calculations along with data from project partners. In addition to this, we are calculating the gross value added (GVA) potential of the proposed system for Scottish and European supply chains. This deep analysis is helping to indicate how investment in the UMACK system will be reflected in additional economic activity within the engaged industries.”
EMEC Technical Manager Elaine Buck said: “The UMACK system offers a truly novel approach to marine energy development aiming to significantly de-risk the overall project and bring best practice to the industry. It is hugely positive to see this form of collaboration between leaders in the marine renewables sphere, while a broader user-group involving additional wave and tidal developers is being afforded full access to the results, ensuring sector-wide impact from the project.”
Fraunhofer IWES Department Head Alexander Schenk said: “We are happy to be able to support UMACK with our experience in offshore foundation and support systems. Together with the Test Centre for Support Structures, we provide the know-how and the infrastructure for testing the geotechnical properties of the mooring system under controlled, offshore-like conditions.”
UMACK is funded by Scottish Enterprise and the Swedish Energy Agency with co-funding from the OCEANERA-NET COFUND (via the European Commission under Horizon 2020).
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