Main Mooring installation work involving CorPower's C3 WEC. Image credit: UMACK

A new mooring, anchoring and quick connect solution optimised for marine energy systems is set to begin Atlantic sea trials.

The €3.7 million ($4.5 million) UMACK (Universal Mooring, Anchor & Connectivity Kit) Project has developed a unique mooring and anchoring solution aimed at superseding widely used ‘gravity-based’ anchor solutions.

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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.

The UMACK project has been designed to:

  • Reduce CAPEX, installation and O&M (Operational & Maintenance) costs by more than 50%;
  • Improve the reliable operation of ocean energy devices in the harshest ocean conditions;
  • Remove the need for dive support and streamline marine operations and vessel requirements with the quick-connect solution, which is fully surface operated;
  • Ease the installation and retrieval of marine energy devices while maximising operational windows.

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

Scaled UMACK test anchor under load test. Credit: UMACK

The final phase of the UMACK project will demonstrate 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 that float on the water surface absorbing energy from ocean waves, while connected to the sea floor via the UMACK system.

Dickson said: “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.” He added to be excited about the period to come because it marks an important stage in a long and rigorous validation process.

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 specialists TTI Marine Renewables, EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre) and marine renewable energy modelling specialists from the University of Edinburgh.

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.”

WEC Mooring and anchor. Credit: UMACK

Henry Jeffrey, Head of Policy and Innovation Group, Institute for Energy Systems at the University of Edinburgh said: “Modelling experts from our Policy and Innovation Group are analysing the economic and environmental impact of the proposed UMACK system. We are using a global economic model containing LCOE and Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) calculations along with data from project partners. In addition to this, we are calculating the Gross Value Added (GVA) potential of the proposed system for Scottish and European supply chains. This deep analysis is helping to indicate how investment in the UMACK system will be reflected in additional economic activity within the engaged industries.”

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).