Portugal has the 10th largest EEZ in the world, covering an extensive region of the NE Atlantic. Accordingly, the National Ocean Strategy for the period 2013-2020 emphasizes the strategic value of the Ocean for scientific, economic and cultural activities and the exploitation of its resources as national and European priorities. For Portugal meeting the challenges for the growth and competitiveness of the maritime economy within its strategic frameworks is fundamental to promote development of marine technology. Three specific areas were identified as priorities for urgent further developing: 1) sensing technologies; 2) new materials; and 3) innovative transport/deployment systems for the energy sector. Furthermore, the urgent need to improve the in-situ component of the ocean observing systems was pointed out.
The proposed project aims to support the deployment, for the first time in the open ocean, of a new generation of general-purpose self-powered oceanographic buoys for data acquisition under longer-term deployment periods while requiring less maintenance than current alternatives. The project shall focus on the engineering aspects of creating such a device, namely its power-supply, including design, operation and maintenance.
The main power-source will be a wave energy converter (WEC) of the oscillating water column (OWC) class, as it is regarded the most reliable technology of its type. Photovoltaic panels (PV) will also be used as complementary systems acting as battery extenders. PV panels are a good complement to WEC as during the summer, waves are less energetic, while there is an increased availability of solar energy. The current program will focus on the design and testing of two different turbine-generator sets on an OWC offshore buoy to be deployed at the Condor seamount, located near Faial island, Azores in the scope of the FCT project “WAVEBUOY – Wave-powered oceanographic buoy for long term deployment”. The offshore WEC constructed will be used in real-sea conditions as the power-source and observation platform for a DOP/UAC oceanographic campaign.These sets are based on designs patented by IDMEC/IST. The overall system from the turbine-generator, PV panels, batteries and electrical circuits, as well as its structural design and control algorithms will be modelled, optimized and tested within the framework of the proposed research study.
The final stage of the project will consist of a technical and economic assessment of the tested devices, taking into consideration fundamental issues as: component degradation due to fouling accumulation and corrosion, structural damage due to extreme weather conditions and commercial viability.nLastly, the project itself is rather innovative, and as consequence, has a significant technological and economic value.