University opens marine energy research facility

University of Edinburgh officials have inaugurated a giant wave tank designed to test marine energy devices.

Called the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility, the project is operated by a University of Edinburgh subsidiary called FloWave TT Ltd. and features a 25-meter-across tank capable of simulating scaled equivalents of waves up to 28-meters-high and currents up to 14 knots.

“We are delighted to mark the official launch of this pioneering facility, which will speed the development of devices to harness wave and current power, and further enhance the university’s position as a center of excellence in marine energy research,” professor Timothy O’Shea said.

The tank is capable of recreating the waves and currents from coastlines around the United Kingdom and Europe, according to the university, with an emphasis on expediting the research process compared to open-water tests.

The US$16 million facility was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the university.

“EPSRC’s investment in the FloWave facility will help keep the UK at the forefront of marine energy technology research and development,” council executive Philip Nelson said. “Research here can accelerate the deployment of these technologies which, in turn, will help us meet our low-carbon targets, create jobs and boost growth.”

The university has shown a strong interest in the marine and hydrokinetics (MHK) sector in recent years — most recently in helping Atlantis Resources Ltd. develop its AR1500 tidal energy units.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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