AW-Energy is a pioneer in the green economy and is the global leader in wave energy technology. Its flagship product, WaveRoller®, is a submerged wave energy converter based on a hinged panel that is attached to the sea bed in the near shore area. It generates electricity from the movement of the waves (surge phenomenon) and is connected to the electric grid onshore. The company is based in Finland, and operates in multiple continents cooperating with strong industrial partners. The company employs a highly professional and efficient team that manages a network of over 100 engineers and technical staff.
Financing has been provided by (listed in alphabetical order):
- Aura Capital
- John Nurminen Oy
AW-Energy has also received financing from the Finnish national R&D fund TEKES and from the EU. Highlights from the company history include:
- 1993 Professional diver, Mr. Rauno Koivusaari, makes an observation diving in an old shipwreck; a strong back-and-forth movement is rocking a heavy hatch
- 1999 He returns to the idea with a group of enthusiastic friends - two small-scale prototype devices are built. Tests with the prototypes confirm that the idea is feasible
- 2000 The first patent application is filed covering the use of the surge phenomenon for energy production. Two energy experts join the team from Fortum Hydro Research Laboratory. Different types of small scale laboratory tests take place. Fundamental research and feasibility studies follow to develop a PTO system
- 2002 AW-Energy Oy is founded. It gets the first private investments for financing the first marine tests carried out in the Gulf of Finland. Tests include a water pump and pressure measurements
- 2003 After promising results, tests continue with the support of the Finnish Technology Fund. Panel designs are modified and compared to previous experiments. Additional financing from a private investor is secured.A second patent application is filed covering a more detailed description of the technology
- 2004 Model tests in the Ship laboratory of Helsinki University of Technology. Study of different panel designs and marine growth and biofouling effects. First plans developed for ocean scale testing in EMEC/Orkney
- 2005 First results from installations in Orkney (EMEC) and measurements in Ecuador (Salinas). The aim is to test concept survivability before designing anything bigger. Prototype exposed to rough sea conditions with rock and sand bottoms. We realize the limitations of pumping water on-shore to use Pelton turbine as PTO. It seems to be a feasible solution for a single unit, but overly complex and inefficient when multiple units are combined. Sketching of the first semi-scaled WaveRoller with hydraulic PTO and on-board generator. Private investment from Aura Capital
- 2006 Portugal identified as the most suitable test site for the demonstration power plant. Start of comprehensive CFD modelling project. Starting design and manufacture of the semi-scaled device WaveRoller#1, a single device equipped with hydraulic PTO without active control system and grid connection
- 2007 Installation, commissioning and monitoring of WaveRoller #1 semi-scale device. After four months of operating in open sea environment we decide to upgrade the PTO to fully exploit higher than expected energy capture. Re-deployment in 2007 with a bigger hydraulic ram. Road map built for 300kW demonstration wave farm consisting of three independent WaveRoller units
- 2008 Deployment of the semi-scaled WaveRoller #2 device equipped with more powerful hydraulic rams. Operation in the open sea environment and exposure to storms with rough seas (Hs > 5 m). After the device decommissioning, detailed data analysis providing further input to 300kW WaveRoller wave farm design.
- 2009 Comprehensive conceptual design works on WaveRoller demonstration wave farm (300 kW). Tank test series in the University of Oporto, Portugal verified by Instituto Superior Technico (IST). A remarkable grant was awarded by the EU FP7 Energy funding program. The Project SURGE demonstration power plant officially begins in October 2009 (More details on Project SURGE).
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Waves are created when wind moves over the ocean surface. Even small ripples on the surface offer the wind a steep slope against which to push, causing the waves to grow and travel forward. In deep waters, waves can travel thousands of nautical miles until their energy dissipates on distant shores. Wave energy produced anywhere in an ocean basin ultimately arrives at its continental shelf margin virtually undiminished until it reaches the depths of about 200m. The interaction between the waves and the sea bottom gradually reduces the high levels of power in the waves.
The combination of the Earth's rotation and the westerly direction of prevailing winds means that high wave energy resource regions are typically located along the western coasts of the continents. This is especially true of locations where waves can travel in a westerly direction without any obstacles for thousands of nautical miles.
Moreover ocean waves are consistent and sea states can be accurately predicted more than 48 hours in advance. Accurate wind forecasts, in contrast, are only available for 5-7 hours beforehand. Other factors that make wave energy especially attractive for electricity generation is its high power density compared to the power density of solar or wind energy.