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Wave energy control and grid integration

Control technology plays an important role in the development of Wave Energy Converters (WECs), from optimising the wave energy extracted in the first step of energy conversion to their integration into power systems.

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Many control techniques are capable of broadening a WEC's frequency response. This improves the energy extraction for other frequencies than the device's natural frequency, which depends on the geometry of the primary energy converter. As different wave conditions occur at an installation site, control technology represents an essential design tool for enhancing the economic viability of wave energy. 

Large-scale utilisation of wave farms and their connection to grids share many challenges with other variable renewable energy systems, e.g. distance to the mainland (as with offshore wind farms) and power variability. However, some challenges are specifically related to wave energy exploitation, such as a WEC’s survivability in extreme wave conditions and the diversity of WEC technologies. Currently, WEC technology is still at an earlier stage of development than wind farms and solar power plants, and only a few systems have exported power to grids.

SINTEF develops solutions to advance the development of wave energy technologies, from the control of power take-off systems to the connection to grids. In addition, the research experience SINTEF has on grid connections of offshore wind farms can also assist in the development of wave farms. 

Our research areas and services include:

  • Developing wave-to-grid models (numerical models representing the dynamics of subsystems from the incident waves to the receiving electricity grid),
  • Controlling WECs (single units and farms of devices) for optimal energy extraction,
  • Controlling WECs for grid code compliance and grid support,
  • Measuring the impact of integrating high shares of wave power into electricity grids,
  • Integrating wave energy into stand-alone power systems, and
  • Evaluating how wave power can complement other variable renewable resources, e.g. wind and solar power.

The grid connection of wave farms is part of our expertise on the grid connection of offshore wind farms.