Wave power. Energy from the sea

Published on Friday, 1 July 2016

The technological boom of the last few years is often compared to an unstoppable wave that should be embraced and ridden to go on surviving in an increasingly competitive market. Enel, which has placed innovation at the centre of its business strategy for many years,  from renewables to electric mobility, via smart cities and partnerships with startups. That is why we have accepted this challenge, not only in a metaphysical sense: n a partnership with the French group DCNS, a leader in complex marine systems, we have set up MERIC (Marine Energy Research and Innovation), a centre of excellence for research and innovation in marine energy. With the suppor of the Organisation for economic development of the Chilean government, MERIC will serve as a global hub for innovation in marine energy in Chile.

"We are very proud to be an active part in the innovative work of MERIC and support its pioneering research in the field of marine energy," said Salvatore Bernabei, Head of Enel’s Renewable Energies Global Division. We are convinced that marine energy can play a significant role in the future of the energy sector, not only in Chile, but also globally".

MERIC will work on techniques to harness energy from tides and waves, taking into account the characteristics of the Pacific Ocean in Chile and the country’s natural conditions (seismic activity, rugged coastline, a particularly rich and diverse array of marine flora and fauna). An innovative, integrated approach will be followed  and a wave energy converter to serve as a “validation test bench” allowing comparison of theoretical results with real world data.

Researchers at the Centre will be engaged in assessing marine resources, site characterisation, bio-fouling, bio-corrosion, environmental and social impact and technological adjustment to extreme ocean conditions.

As a global leader in the renewable sector, we will manage the planning, installation and maintenance of marine power plants, while DCNS will contribute with its experience in marine industrial project management. A valuable contribution to MERIC will also come from the organisations Fundación Chile and INRIA Chile, research institutions Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad Austral de Chile, as well as our company Chilectra.

Enel has been investigating the potential of this sector for many years. Together with 40SouthEnergy we have developed R115, the first device that harnesses waves for electricity generation, without emissions or any impact on the marine environment and the landscape. The R115 generator harnesses waves, not tides like most marine energy systems, hence it’s particularly suitable for the Mediterranean Sea, as well as oceans. Not by chance, harnessing energy from waves is one of the main items on the action plan implemented by the EU Commission for the development of the Blue Economy.

From 2019 onwards, MERIC will have a consolidated infrastructure and experience which
will allow for providing services to local and international industry wishing to test cutting-edge technologies in the Chilean seas.