Wave Dragon is a pioneering large scale ocean energy solution for bulk electricity generation. It is a floating, slack-moored energy converter of the overtopping type that can be deployed in a single unit or in arrays of Wave Dragon units in groups resulting in a power plant with a capacity comparable to traditional fossil based power plants.
The first idea
Erik Friis-Madsen was initially inspired in 1986 by watching waves run up on a beach. The waves overtopping the reef of a South Pacific atoll and running out of holes in the reef convinced him that this could be used for energy production. The first sketches of the Wave Dragon were a circular structure - a floating atoll - with a turbine in the centre.
The Wave Dragon name
The name Wave Dragon is originally the result of a lingual misunderstanding. It was the fellow owner of the inventor's company that gave it its name. She thought it looked like a kite - but called it a dragon (We use the same word/expression for a kite and a dragon in Danish).
Wave Dragon team
In 1997 Erik Friis-Madsen teamed up with H.C. Soerensen to add organisational and fund raising expertise to the project. A group of companies and universities joined the team to add state-of-the-art knowledge in fields like hydro turbines, hydraulic behaviour, generators and power generation.
Wave Dragon research
Phase 1: 1987-1996 Formulation of the idea/concept, energy and economic considerations, patent application. Financial support from EFS to establishment of international co-operation.
Two BSc thesis ECC
Phase 2: 1997 Testing of a simple model scale 1:45 in a wave tank to establish basic data on reflectors, ramp and energy efficiency.
MSc thesis AAU 1997-1998 Establishment of a Joule Craft project (phase 3a) and Research Feasibility Study
Phase 2a: 1998 Establishing of a model scale 1:50 at DMI Testing in a wave tank at Aalborg University to establish the response from waves of different height, the magnitude of the forces in the mooring system and the energy efficiency.
Phase 2b: 1999 Adjustment of the model and the design parameters with reference to phase 3
Phase 3a: 1998-1999 Further testing of a model scale 1:50 to establish the design parameters of important parts (flow in the turbines, strategy for choice of turbines). Optimisation of power unit (turbines, cable connections, transformation, and generators). Optimisation of turbines and reservoir. BSc thesis, ECC. MSc thesis AAU
Phase 3b: 2000 Development and tests of an axial turbine with variable speed, 2 different inlet types and 2 different runner-wheels
Phase 3c 2000 - 2001: Sequential modifications and testing of the existing 1. generation scale 1:50 model. The tests have shown the influence on Wave Dragon's performance by changes in different geometry- and mass distribution parameters. The test series have established improved design parameters for the prototype Ph.D. thesis at AAU on ramp design.
Phase 4a: 2002 - 2004 Design of a prototype and deployment in a small Danish inlet (Nissum Bredning) with scale 1:4.5 wave conditions resembling a downscaled North Sea climate.