€3.7M marine energy mooring and quick-connect system set for Atlantic trials

€3.7M marine energy mooring and quick-connect system set for Atlantic trials
Scaled UMACK test anchor under load test at IWES facility

A new, ground-breaking mooring, anchoring and quick connect solution optimised for marine energy systems is set for Atlantic sea trials, following a range of laboratory and on-land test campaigns currently underway.

The €3.7m UMACK (Universal Mooring, Anchor & Connectivity Kit) Project has developed a unique mooring and anchoring solution aimed at superseding widely used ‘gravity-based’ anchor solutions – reducing CAPEX, installation and operational & maintenance (O&M) costs by more than 50 per cent.

The UMACK solution also addresses fundamental challenges to improve the reliable operation of ocean energy devices in the harshest ocean conditions.

UMACK project manager and CorPower Ocean head of projects Matt Dickson said the innovative technology is being developed as a universal and adaptable solution for a broad range of marine energy applications and seabed types. UMACK presents a step change in technology for the ocean energy space addressing the affordability, durability and reliability of marine power systems mooring and anchoring.

On-land anchor testing is currently underway at the world-renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy System (IWES) in cooperation with the Test Centre for Support Structures (TTH) of the Leibniz University of Hannover.

The UMACK project will finish by demonstrating the UMACK solution integrated with CorPower Ocean’s C4 Wave Energy Converter (WEC) in real ocean operating conditions. The company’s full scale WEC demonstration programme HiWave-5 runs in parallel with the UMACK project, with the first full-scale system scheduled for ocean deployment towards the end of 2021. CorPower’s WECs take the form of heaving buoys which float on the water surface absorbing energy from ocean waves, while connected to the sea floor via the UMACK system.

UMACK’s new quick-connect solution is fully surface operated removing the need for dive support and streamlining marine operations and vessel requirements. It further eases the installation and retrieval of marine energy devices while maximising operational windows.

The UMACK Project is led by a European consortium including geotechnical specialist Ternan Energy, wave and tidal energy developers CorPower Ocean and Sustainable Marine Energy Limited, mooring experts TTI Marine Renewables, EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre) and marine renewable energy modelling experts from the University of Edinburgh.

“This project collaboration has reimagined the traditional mooring and anchoring process,” said Mr Dickson. “The consortium has worked intensively for several years taking the UMACK concept from the drawing board, through multiple design, development and test phases, to construction, subsystem testing and now the upcoming open ocean testing towards the end of 2021. The forthcoming open ocean trials mark a tremendously exciting period, and an important stage in a long and rigorous validation process. The project is aiming to demonstrate how improved strategies and reduced downtime afforded by the novel UMACK system can decrease LCOE (Levelised Cost Of Electricity) for a broad range of marine energy platforms.”

Ternan energy geotechnical engineer Catriona Macdonald said: “Mooring solutions continue to present significant challenges across the marine energy industry. The UMACK consortium has joined forces to develop a more efficient and cost-effect solution which can be shared universally, benefiting not only wave and tidal, but extending to other areas such as floating offshore wind. Ternan has specifically been providing geotechnical and anchor design support, with a particular focus on investigating the practical deployment of novel anchor solutions such as screw piles and mesh anchors for offshore structures.”

UMACK is funded by Scottish Enterprise and the Swedish Energy Agency with co-funding from the OCEANERA-NET COFUND (via the European Commission under Horizon 2020).