Generating electricity from the waves at a competitive cost while respecting the marine ecosystem is now possible, thanks to the technology developed through the creativity of 40South Energy, a business and born from an idea by Italian mathematician Massimo Grassi that is based in Pisa and has its headquarters in London, and supported by Enel Green Power's renewable energy expertise.
The companies' R115 Wave Energy Converter (WEC) recently won the European Solar Prize 2014, a prestigious green energy award established by EUROSOLAR (otherwise known as the European Association for Renewable Energy) that this year reached its 21st edition.
The two companies were declared winners of the Industrial or Commercial Companies and Farmers category for their partnership in the construction of the R115 WEC. 40South Energy created the innovative WEC and owns its patents, while EGP supported the device's development by acquiring the prototype. After a testing phase off the coast of Punta Righini in Tuscany, a device with a nominal capacity of 150 kilowatts will be installed 600 metres from the southwest coast of the Island of Elba and connected to the towns of Chiessi and Pomonte, bringing energy to over 80 households.
The R115 is the first device in the Mediterranean Sea to be enrolled in a public national registry for marine devices (the Italian Register for energy plants with a capacity between 60kW and five megawatts in the “Oceanic Plant Type” category). Compared to the most popular wave energy conversion technologies used in Northern Europe, the two-stage design of the R115 – which allows the converter to move up and down autonomously in the water column and to seek its nominal energy level – has several advantages: simplicity and speed of installation and decommissioning, reduced investment and maintenance costs, no threat to navigation and negligible environmental impact.
Since 2012 EGP and 40 South Energy have been working together to install other R115s and larger, more powerful devices – such as the 2MW R1300 WEC – and to exploit blue energy with renewable and sustainable technology in key markets for Enel such as Italy, Spain, the United States and Chile.