The European Investment Bank is to invest up to €10m ($11m) in a wave energy technology from a Finnish start-up company.
AW-Energy has developed a technology called WaveRoller which is a near-shore underwater device that converts wave energy into electrical power.
In 2012, the company installed three 100kW demonstration units connected to the grid near Peniche, in Portugal. It is now poised to install a full-scale 350kW device in the same area and the company says it has “identified commercial leads in six countries and has the potential objective of selling more than 50 units in the four coming years”.
Now the funding from the EIB will be used to further develop the technology towards a full commercial roll out.
The funding is the first to be granted under the EIB’s InnovFin Energy Demonstration Project programme, which provides loans, guarantees or equity-type investments of between €7.5m and €75m for first-of-a-kind commercial-scale demonstration projects in renewable energy and hydrogen fuel cells.
AW-Energy’s chief executive John Liljelund said the investment was “a significant milestone not only for WaveRoller and the wave energy sector, but for the ocean energy industry as a whole, which is currently on the brink of a commercial breakthrough”.
He added: “As a constant and far more predictable form of renewable energy than wind and solar, wave energy will be a highly valuable addition to the global renewable energy mix. Bankable technology is the cornerstone when building a new industry. Having prestigious institutions like the EIB on board adds plenty of credibility to the equation.”
EIB vice-president Jan Vapaavuori said: “I think it would be hard to underestimate the importance of this type of pilot project that can open up untapped sources of clean energy. One of the goals of InnovFin is to support new technologies and the EIB is glad it can support this project through this instrument. The symbolic importance of a highly innovative Finnish company putting a project in place in Portugal makes this a truly European initiative.”
EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, added: “An investment in renewable energy technologies is an investment in Europe’s leadership of these new industries. We want to support renewable energy pioneers to contribute solutions to global climate change challenges, while generating employment and sustainable economic growth at home in Europe.”