Wello Oy (Wello) conducted a full scale demonstration of its ‘Penguin’ wave energy converter (WEC) at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC’s) wave test site facility at Billia Croo in Orkney, during 2011-2014. The device’s nominal capacity was 1 MW and during operation, it fed electricity into the local grid via EMEC’s pre-installed subsea cable. The device was installed at a new deep water berth (~60m) at the north end of the site. In January 2016 the Penguin device was towed from Hatston Pier in Orkney to Falmouth Port on the Cornish Court, where it was planned for deployment (along with two other penguin devices) at the Wave Hub test facility, as part of the Clean Energy from Ocean Waves (CEFOW) project. The project is funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme and aims to test arrays of devices in challenging sea conditions over a period of several years. However, in December 2016 it was announced that the deployment location would be changed to EMEC as a result of a change in schedule. This change in schedule led to the need for a challenging winter deployment, setting the requirements for fast connections that are available at EMEC.
The Penguin device was deployed again in Orkney early during 2017. The installation methods set out below refers to the initial deployment of the Penguin device at the EMEC site (2011), however, the installation method remained broadly similar for the most recent deployment. No additional environmental baseline data was gathered for the 2017 deployment. In March 2019, Wello’s Penguin marked its two-year anniversary of continuous deployment.
Construction of a second device started during the summer of 2017. The second device is also planned for deployment at the EMEC site.
More recently, after a long deployment, on March 22nd 2019, the Penguin prototype sank at EMEC test site. This marked the end of the first test period in the EU funded CEFOW-project, which will continue with the new devices. The prototype, which was launched in 2010, had been deployed four times altogether over a period of nine years. During the testing period, the device fulfilled expectations and accomplished what the prototype was built for, having survived waves of over 18 meters, proving invaluable insights on the technology, mooring construction, cable connection, control software, and power take-off construction for subsequent models.
The CEFOW project, coordinated by Fortum will continue with the deployment of two commercially ready devices. The first, the new Penguin WEC2, is an optimised Penguin model based on proven technology. The WEC2 has been towed to Orkney from the Tallinn shipyard, Estonia and is expected to be installed to the EMEC test site later during 2019.
Penguin WEC2 sets the benchmark for state-of-the-art wave energy technology, improving energy generation compared to the previously deployed WEC1, and boasting an increase in 380% in power production. The WEC2 is a key milestone towards the full potential of ocean-wave energy conversion technology, confirming all calculations and energy costs Wello presented on the Global Wave Energy Potential and Wave Energy Levels map.
WEC2 is funded by both the European Commission’s research and innovation program Horizon 2020 Clean Energy From Ocean Waves (CEFOW), and project participants.
The device was installed at European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) wave device test area in Billia Croo, Orkney, UK.
The project has an installed capacity of less or equal to 1 MW; therefore no Section 36 Consent was required. In addition, EMEC test site deployments require no terrestrial planning applications. No Licence to Disturb European Protected Species or Basking Shark was required for this project, therefore only a Marine Licence was necessary.
Marine Licence (Marine (Scotland Act) 2010
Key Environmental Issues
The following potential impacts were considered during the environmental assessment:
- Seabed disturbance during installation and removal of the mooring system
- Disturbance to marine mammals and fish from the presence of the mooring system and device
- Potential disturbance of marine mammals and fish from underwater noise
- Disturbance to other sea users from support vessel activity and sustained presence of structures offshore
- Change in local seascape through increased activity and sustained presence of the device
- Disturbance to seabed communities and during connection to and disconnection from the EMEC connector.
- Temporary change in water quality during installation and removal activities
- Effects on air quality from vessel emissions
- Effects on marine birds from vessel operations and device presence on the test site
- Effects on marine fish from EMF emitted during electricity transmission
- Effects on flows and fluxes from the presence of subsea structures
- Employment opportunities for local residents and businesses
- Utilisation of local infrastructure and subsequent investment in local services and economy
- Generation of marine renewable energy will contribute towards government targets
As shown, a number of potential interactions were identified that could potentially arise from the proposed deployment; however, none of these were anticipated to have a significant effect on the particular receptors within the receiving environment. This clearly demonstrates the benefits of Wello’s approach to technology design and operational planning. The general character of the device and its mooring system, along with the ability to use vessels which are relatively small and can be locally sourced mean that the project is relatively benign in its nature and can bring significant benefits to local maritime support businesses.
Mitigation: The following project mitigation measures were identified during the environmental assessment and included in the project Commitments Register:
- Embedment anchors were selected which removes the need for any subsea excavation and minimises the footprint of the mooring system. This also allows the scale of the clump weights to be minimised - further reducing potential footprint
- The mooring system design allows the use of relatively small workboats; minimising underwater noise generated during activities
- The mooring system is also designed for rapid deployment; reducing time at sea
- Selection of mooring system lines (wire) under tension removes the possibility of entanglement
- Ensuring vessels are well maintained will reduce noise and potential for accidental events
- Noise generating components of the device are only required as back-up therefore any effects will be temporary and minimal
- The size and character of structure should minimise the risk of collision – it has no external moving parts
- Vessel anchoring will be limited to when necessary
- Placement of clump weights will be as accurate as possible to ensure minimal ‘re-positioning’ manoeuvres
- Anchors and clump weights will as far as possible, be removed in a single attempt so as to reduce the duration of noise and other forms of disturbance
- The final stages of operational planning shall minimise sea time for tugs and workboats as far as practically possible
- The back-up cooling system will only be used when absolutely necessary, normally in rough weather where the sea itself will generate most noise
- Vessel crews will keep a lookout for sea mammals and basking sharks at all times.
- Vessel crews will be briefed on marine life sensitivities and will have ID materials supplied
- Vessel operations will be limited to quiet activities if marine mammals or basking sharks are in close proximity (<50 m) to the works, unless safety considerations require an activity to continue
Supplementary Licence Conditions
The following supplementary licencing conditions were specified in the Marine Licence issued by Marine Scotland:
- The device shall be predominantly coloured yellow and fitted with a light flashing yellow once every five seconds (FL Y 5s) and visible from all directions. The light should be mounted on the highest part of the superstructure and have a nominal range of 2 nautical miles.
- The Licensee shall provide Marine Scotland with Third Party Verification of the mooring system prior to installation.
- The Licensee must comply with the Environmental Monitoring Plans (EMP) submitted in support of the Marine Licence Application. Prior to installation the EMP must be signed off and submitted to Marine Scotland.
- A passive radar reflector must be positioned on the highest part of the superstructure.
- Statutory Sanction of the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses must be sought to
Deploy and subsequently remove the proposed buoy station. The 'Application for Statutory Sanction' form enclosed with this letter must be completed as fully as possible for each buoy and returned to the Northern Lighthouse Board either via fax on 0131-220-0235 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for the necessary sanction to be granted prior to deployment. The proposed duration of deployment should be included within the sanction application.
Environmental Webpage: http://www.wello.eu/en/environment
 Aquatera Ltd, 2011Deployment of Wello Oy’s wave energy converter at EMEC’s wave test facility in Orkney Environmental Statement
 Marine Scotland, 2012, Marine Licence Determination Letter
Wello Penguin being tested at EMEC
The Wello Penguin produces electricity using a rotating mass encassed in a asymetrically designed hull which rolls with the pitch and heave of the waves. The rotation of the mass drives an electric motor which in turn produces electricity. The device itself is 9 metres high with a draft of 7 metres, weighs over 1600 tonnes (excluding ballast) and has a width of 30 metres. The device is rated upto 1 MW and 2013 testing showed that continuous current control ranges for the device were between 160–180 kWs with peak performance periods of up to 700 kW in sea conditions of 3 metres and up.
The mooring system was pre-laid at the test berth. This part of the operation was completed using a multicat-type support vessel. During this process, the following was installed:
- Embedment anchors
- Clump weights and chains attaching each to an embedment anchor
- Subsurface buoys and associated lines/wires attached to clump weights
- Recovery lines and small surface buoys (to allow access to the subsurface buoys when attaching device tethers during device installation)
The multicat vessel used to deploy the mooring spread was fitted with survey equipment for accurate plotting, recording and positioning of the anchors. The multicat was then loaded with the anchors, buoys, the short mooring pennants and marker buoys. Each section of mooring spread was taken out and deployed using the anchor handling winch and roller of the multicat. The anchor was rendered out to the required position on the seabed followed by the ground chain clump weight and riser wire, the main buoy was deployed followed by small mooring pennant and marker buoy and lastly a suitable messenger line to facilitate pick up of the marker buoy. This process was repeated for each of the three mooring sections. Once the anchors and sections of mooring were deployed the anchors were allowed to “soak” for at least 24 hours. On completion of the soaking period a tug was deployed and preceded to pick up each buoy and secured the short mooring pennant to its tow wire and then a suitable sustained pull will be applied to ensure that each of the anchors was fully bedded in.
The Penguin was towed from Lyness to the pre laid moorings at the EMEC test site at Billia Croo. The Penguin had a lead tug (multicat) and a stern tug to facilitate control during the tow and while the moorings were connected. A RHIB was also in attendance throughout on safety standby duties.
After the Penguin had been attached and secured at its moorings and its roll plates deployed, the electrical connection was undertaken. An ROV with a manipulator was deployed and attached a pick up line from the EMEC cable connector to a pick up buoy on the surface. The cable from the Penguin has a diameter of 51 mm and is 200 metres long.
The following vessels were used during construction and operation:
Name and type of vessel
Installation / operation. Undertake ROV surveys of the device and moorings
Installation, decommissioning and unplanned maintenance. Act as stern tug from Lyness to Billia Croo, assist with mooring connection, provide safety/emergency response backup.
Mooring and device installation, decommissioning, unplanned maintenance. Lay moorings, Main tow from Lyness to Billia Croo, assist with mooring and unmooring the device and with electrical connections.
General purpose Multicat and other vessels
Used if large multicat is unavailable.
Mooring and device installation, decommissioning, planned maintenance. Transfer crew to and from the penguin, safety response.
Papers, Reports, Research Studies
See environmental documentation at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/marine/Licensing/marine/scoping/EMEC/bcb5
Work package 6 within the CEFOW project is currently conducting device-specific research to investigate responses of seals, seabirds, fish and seabed organisms to the deployment of single and multiple Penguin wave energy converters at EMEC. The results will aim to aid industry and regulators regarding wider-scale deployments of renewable energy technology and potential environmental responses. As the work package progresses, the Universities of Exeter, Plymouth and Uppsala present on the advancements they are making through CEFOW, which can be accessed from the following link: http://www.emec.org.uk/about-us/wave-clients/wello-oy/cefow-clean-energy-from-ocean-waves/
Baseline Assessment: Wello Penguin at EMEC
|Receptor||Study Description||Design and Methods||Results||Status|
|Physical Environment||Geology. Triscom Marine and Osiris in association with Aquatera carried out a hydrographic and geophysical survey.||The survey was undertaken across a 1 km by 1 km survey area, lying to the north west of the Hoy Mouth, Orkney Islands. A total of 25 line km were surveyed consisting of 21 north-south main survey lines and 4 east-west cross lines. The primary objectives of the survey were to produce Isopachyte (total sediment thickness) and Seabed Features charts detailing the distribution of sediment cover across the survey area.||The sediments are granular (sands and gravels) and are thought to be of Quaternary age ranging in depth across the site from 0m – 11.5m. These Quaternary sediments are underlain by (Lower Devonian) Sandstone bedrock. Sediment cover tend to thicken from south west to north east, with the granular sediments most prominent in the central northern and north eastern sections of the survey area, where thicknesses reach up to 11.5m. Towards the south west, sediment thicknesses quickly decrease to a point where bedrock lays at, or very close to the seabed, possibly covered by a veneer of granular materials.||Completed 26-28th January 2011|
|Physical Environment||Benthic ecology. Aquatera and Roving Eye Enterprises were commissioned by Wello to undertake a pre-construction seabed survey.||A Seaeye Falcon observation-class ROV fitted with video and 12 MP stills camera systems was deployed from the survey vessel MV Loadsman. Accurate ROV position-fixing was achieved using a calibrated Ultra Short BaseLine (USBL) sonar system and the data overlaid on the video footage collected as UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) coordinates. |
The survey protocol used was consistent with the guidelines issued by EMEC (ROV Seabed Survey Guideline REP167-02-02 20100210). The ROV was flown over the seabed at a suitable height to provide a general overview of the seabed characteristics. The transit of the ROV was paused to obtain steady video shots and still images of interesting seabed features, habitats or species encountered along the survey transects.
|The seabed environment in the majority of the survey area was composed of rippled fine to medium sands situated in water depths of approximately 60 to 65 m. The seabed in the southwest corner of the area rocky with seabed being composed of pebbles, cobles and occasional boulders. The biota present in this area was more diverse and a range of species were observed, the most widespread being the polychaete Pomatoceros triqueter. |
Overall, the footage collected during the survey operations indicated that the seabed at the test berth was relatively homogenous and comprised of rippled fine-medium sands. This type of relatively high-energy seabed does not support a great abundance or diversity of benthic animals and no sensitive species or communities were recorded in the vicinity. A more diverse rocky seabed type is present to the southwest of the berth approximately 200 m from the nearest planned anchor point and should not be significantly impacted by operations at the site.
|Completed 6th March 2011|
Post-Installation Monitoring: Wello Penguin at EMEC
|Stressor||Receptor||Study Description||Design and Methods||Results||Status|
|Noise||Birds, Fish, Marine Mammals||Acoustic monitoring of device cooling system.||Wello commissioned Heriot Watt University’s International Centre for Island Technology and Aquatera to undertake acoustic environmental monitoring of the device’s cooling system whilst the device was berthed alongside the quayside at Lyness.||The study examined the underwater sound pressure levels produced by the Wello Penguin’s cooling system. The measured sound pressure levels suggest a source level of 140.5dBrms re 1μPa at 1m. Significant narrowband harmonics are evident generally at low frequencies although it is expected that ambient background noise levels to be reached within approximately 10m from the device. There was a degree of directionality of sound production due to the position of the equipment within the hull. Airborne noise could not be examined due to the generator used to power the device.||Completed – January 2012|
|Habitat Change||Physical Environment, Invertebrates||Seabed communities - Post deployment survey.||Compare with pre-installation survey footage and to investigate the status of the mooring system (refer to the EMP).||N/A||Survey no longer required by the Regulator.|
|Habitat Change||Physical Environment, Invertebrates||Seabed communities - A post-decommissioning survey.||After all structures have been removed to establish the effects of the process on the seabed (refer to the EMP).||N/A||Survey no longer required by the Regulator.|