SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY
According to the Italian National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) the Ocean Energy total contribution (in terms of installed capacity) expected to meet the binding 2020 European Renewable Energy Sources (RES) targets will be of 3 MW in 2020. For this reason, the Italian increasing interest in the exploitation of wave and tidal technology to produce clean and renewable energy can be recognized both in Government initiatives (e.g. one of the highest incentive for such sources worldwide) and in the research and development activities carried out by public and private players. Mainly universities and companies specialized in research and innovation are involved in R&D in this field; thanks to those efforts Italy is indeed at the forefront of research, development and demonstration at a prototypal level. Such leadership has been recently recognized by Chilean Government’s economic development organization CORFO (Corporación de Fomento de la Producción); Enel Green Power (EGP) from Italy and DCNS from France have been selected to set up a groundbreaking global centre of marine energy R&D excellence in Chile, named Marine Energy Research and Innovation Centre (MERIC). MERIC’s applied research and development work will focus on key sources of marine renewable energy such as tidal power and wave power.
The Ministerial Decree on renewable energy sources (DM 6 July 2012) reviews the support schemes (until the end of 2012 based on Feed-in Tariffs and Green Certificates) for grid connected renewable energy power plants (non PV). The Decree concerns plants put into operation since 1 January 2013 (with capacity ≥ 1 kW).
The Decree identifies four different ways of access to incentives: direct access, bid auctions (Dutch Auctions), registries for new power plants, for fully reconstructed power plants, for reactivated, empowered and hybrid power plants and registries for rebuilding intervention. The Decree defines the criteria to access to the registries and the Dutch Auctions and establishes specific limits for the annual capacity eligible to incentives. These limits are set up differently for each kind of renewable energy source and for all the different ways of access to incentives (registries or bid auctions).
In general, the Decree grants a fixed tariff plus, in some cases, a specific premium, to provide incentives to net electricity fed into the grid. The fixed tariff is different according to each source, technology and capacity range considered. Power plants with a capacity > 1 MW can only receive the incentive (fixed tariff minus electricity hourly zonal price, plus premiums if foreseen). Power plants with a capacity ≤ 1 MW can receive, instead of the incentive, a Feed-in Tariff composed by the fixed tariff plus, in some cases, a specific premium.
In the Dutch Auctions the maximum requested value of the tariff cannot be higher than a 2% discount of the reference value and the minimum value cannot be lower than a 30% discount of the reference value. The incentives last for the average conventional plant life of each typology of power plant. All the support schemes are managed by GSE (the Italian Energy System Operator, the body in charge of managing all the incentives to renewable energy).
New, fully reconstructed, reactivated or empowered wave and tidal energy power plants can access directly to incentives if their capacity is not greater than 60 kW, otherwise they must apply for access to registries.
*If the power plant is built by the Public Administration the maximum capacity eligible to direct access is doubled (120 kW).
For wave and tidal energy power plants, the total annual capacity (MW) eligible to access to registries from 2013 to 2015 and so to obtain the incentives is indicated in the table below:
If the total installed capacity in a certain year is less than the capacity to be supported in that year according to the Decree, the residual capacity can obtain the incentives in the following year. In 2012 and in 2013, there were not requests to enrol to the register, while in 2014 a single initiative, with capacity of 99 kW, was admitted to the register.
The wave and tidal energy rebuilt power plants can only access directly to incentives and their capacity must not be higher than 60 kW. The Decree does not provide Dutch Auction for wave and tidal energy power plants.
In general, the tariffs for plants entering into operation from 2014 on will decrease by 2% (compared to the values provided by the Decree) in each of the subsequent years until 2015, except in case of failure to reach 80% of the yearly capacity quota provided for the register. In the case of wave and tidal energy power plants, the above mentioned curtailment will not apply because the total capacity provided by the Decree is still fully available.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
KEY R&D INSTITUTIONS AND RELEVANT R&D PROJECTS
Key players involved in research regarding the exploitation of marine energy to produce energy are universities. Among these, the University of Naples “Federico II” is distinguished for its GEM project started in 2003. In fact, the public/private consortium SEAPOWER Scarl (www.seapowerscrl.com), formed by a private company and the University of Naples, thanks to the collaboration between ADAG applied research group of the Department of Industrial Engineering - Aerospace Division, University of Naples “Federico II” and Eng. Nicola Giorgio Morrone, developed one of the most attractive project of the last period in the field of renewable energy production using marine sources, GEM: The Ocean’s Kite (http://www.seapowerscrl.com/ocean-and-river-system/gem).
The SEAPOWER public/private consortium is waiting for the final permit to set up and manage a real test field laboratory in the Strait of Messina opened to Italian and to foreign companies for testing their tidal current devices in the Strait of Messina . The laboratory will provide assistance in deploying the devices, data handling and certification for the prototypes installed and tested in the area available to the consortium. The consortium is waiting for the final permit to build the laboratory.
In the field of wave energy, SEAPOWER has also started a cooperation with Umbra Group (www.umbragroup.it), world leader company in ball screws and linear actuators, to develop a system aimed to harvest energy from wave motion. The system has been designed keeping it as simple as possible with reliability and survivability as main driving criteria. Numerical and experimental tests on 1:5 scaled model have already been performed in the towing tank of the Department of Industrial Engineering of the University of Naples “Federico II”.
Set up and validation of numerical codes have already been done as well as shape optimization procedure in order to maximize the power output given the sea state. A 60 kW prototype is being designed to be deployed on the Italian coast in order to verify its performance in real field.
A list of the projects that Politecnico di Torino (POLITO) managed/currently manages along with a brief description regarding the objectives of each project is given below:
- National project "Evaluation of Effective Productivity of Floating System for Energy Generation from Mediterranean Saw Wave" (2011-2012).
In the frame of the Italian national agreement between ENEA and the Ministry of Economic Development on the National Energy Research Set Plan, a special contract was signed (2011-2012).
The partnership is formed by POLITO and ENEA aiming at the evaluation of the effective productivity of floating system for sea wave energy conversion. In particular, the following actions will be pursued:
‐ Wave analysis in Pantelleria with numerical methods;
‐ Productivity estimation of a gyroscopic converter device and possible integration in the power grid.
- Regional project S.PO.S.DE.T. "Self Powered Floating Device for Sea Traffic Detection and Transmission" - Regione Piemonte (2009-2011)
In the frame of the regional research plan (Regione Piemonte), a project was financed regarding the development of ISWEC, an innovative device (scale 1:8 with respect to the Pantelleria typical wave) for energy generation and sea wave energy conversion.
The complex system is currently under testing at the Pantelleria premises and further development is foreseen.
- Regional project PROMO - Produzione di Energia da Moto Ondoso - Regione Piemonte (2012-2014)
In the frame of regional research plan (Regione Piemonte) Politecnico di Torino has received a grant for design, development and testing of a full scale device for sea wave energy conversion. Politecnico di Torino, in cooperation with Wave for Energy, is currently working for the device integration on the energy power grid, in order to evaluate the quality of energy produced from renewable sources.
- Regional project REMOTO - Produzione di Energia da Moto Ondoso - Regione Siciliana (2013-2015)
In the frame of regional research plan (Regione Sicilia), Wave for Energy and other partners have received a grant for deployment and grid connection of a full scale device for sea wave energy conversion.
GEM, The Ocean’s Kite, has been patented and the concept consists of a submerged floating body linked to the seabed by means of a tether. The main hull houses electrical equipment and auxiliary systems. Two turbines are installed outside the floating body and are exposed to the external currents.
Due to a relatively safe and easy self-orienting behaviour, GEM, The Ocean’s Kite, is a good candidate to solve some problems involved with oscillating and reversing streams, typical of tidal current. An additional advantage of its configuration is related to the possibility of avoiding the use of expensive submarine foundations on the seabed, because these are replaced with a flexible cable connected to a single mooring point. Releasing the anchorage cable allows the system to pop-up for easy maintenance. A special diffuser (shroud) has been designed to double the output power keeping the blade length small.
After several numerical investigations, a series of experimental tests on two different scaled models has been carried out in the towing tank of the Department of Industrial Engineering – Naval Division at the University of Naples. The models tested were completely instrumented so that a dynamic behaviour and the off-nominal working conditions were investigated.
The real scale prototype system of 100 kW, with 5 knots of water current speed, has been built and has been deployed nearby Venice in a very slow speed current of about 3 knots downscaling the power to 20 kW. This prototype has been built by a consortium of Venetian companies thanks also to a financial contribution of Veneto Regional Authority.
The real field tests have demonstrated the fully correspondence of the system behaviour with respect to what had already been measured on the 1:5 model during the test campaign in the naval towing tank. A full scale prototype of 200 kW at 2.5 m/s water current speed is being designed and will be deployed in the Strait of Messina to definitively assess all the performances of the system.
The Kobold Turbine
The “Kobold Turbine” has been developed since 1998 by ADAG Group of the Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Naples “Federico II”, in collaboration with “Ponte di Archimede international Spa”, a company that works in the field of research and development into alternative and renewable energy sources, specialising in the environmental aspects of this work.
The Kobold consists of a submerged vertical-axis turbine for exploitation of marine currents installed in the Strait of Messina, 150 metres off the coast of Ganzirri since 2002. The realization of the Enermar prototype has been financed by Ponte di Archimede Company, together with a 50% fund paid by the Sicilian Region Administration (Regione Siciliana), in the framework of European Union Structural Funds. This project has been disseminated among the developing countries in which the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) operates and the first three countries that expressed interest were the People's Republic of China, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
A joint-venture was created, under the auspices of UNIDO, between “Ponte di Archimede” and the Indonesian Walinusa Energy Corporation. A prototype is being built and will be placed on the Lomboc Island (the island immediately at east of Bali), where it could feed energy to a small village. The Indonesian plant will have blades length 7 m, (chord 0,4 m) and diameter 5 m (intercepted area 35 m2). The power could be about 120-150 kW. The Ponte di Archimede company has now transferred its assets to the Horcynus Orca Foundation with the aim to leverage on the experiences gained with Kobold and the local workforce in the area to create a centre of excellence in the marine energy space.
Sea waves are one of the most interesting and well distributed renewable energy sources in the world. At the current state of the art, all the existing sea wave energy conversion systems are designed to operate offshore, mainly in the oceans where the waves height is definitely high. In the Mediterranean Sea, waves are generally low, except under particular meteorological conditions. Thus, it is necessary to develop devices that can exploit other properties of the waves instead of their height, like wave slopes. The mechanical conversion system, called ISWEC, that will be used for the development of the project has been analysed by Politecnico di Torino and results show that the system possesses good potential for energy conversion.
ISWEC device is composed mainly of a floating body with a slack mooring to the seabed. The waves tilt the buoy with a rocking motion that is transmitted to the gyroscopic system inside the buoy.
Full scale ISWEC drawing (CAD) with two gyros
The conversion device to be built will have the following features:
- floating positioning system, with no need for rigid linking devices or foundations on the seabed; functioning is based on a resonant inertial system with gyroscopic;
- sealed hull, with no movable parts exposed to marine environment;
- adaptability to wave variations;
- reduced environmental impact
- ease of maintenance.
Trials at various levels have been carried out: in the first phase, a set of "dry tests" has been done on a controlled position mobile platform; in the second phase, a series of tests have been performed in the INSEAN wave tank, with suitably generated and controlled waves.
Finally the system has been placed and tested on Pantelleria Island for the real sea tests. Further tests will be carried out in order to develop and tune optimized control algorithms. Currently the real scale prototype is under development and it is going to be launched.
Last june, Enel Green Power, a world leader in renewable energy generation, and 40South Energy, a group of highly innovative companies operating in the field of marine energy at the international level, began the installation and commissioning of a first R115 generator, with a nominal capacity of 150 kW and installed capacity of about 100 kW, generating electricity from the energy produced by the waves of the sea around Tuscany. The 40South Energy wave energy converters comprise one fully submerged section – called Lower Member – and energy interceptors – called Upper Members – at different depths. The relative motion of the Lower and Upper members is converted directly into electricity on the machine. The depth of the machines is controlled automatically to respond dynamically to changing sea conditions. This ability to vary depth dynamically and automatically in response to any changes in the state of the sea also guarantees that the same machines can operate across the globe. Whether the installation is in Orkney, Tuscany, or Oregon, the machine will work within the same operational limits.
The new generator ensures full integration into the marine environment and ease of maintenance, and according to initial estimates will enable the generation of about 220 MWh per year, enough to meet the needs of over 80 households.
40South Energy has handled the installation and commissioning of the machine, which began to produce the first electricity. Partners will continue assessing the performance of the system in the marine environment during 2015 in light of installing the machine and connecting to the network on the Elba Island during second half of the year. 40South Energy, in its continuous efforts to strive for utilizing the marine energy resources, is also developing a 50 kW solution to install near shore and depth of 8 m within 200 m from the costal line.
OTHER RELEVANT NATIONAL ACTIVITIES
FP7-ENERGY-2012: SINGULAR: Smart and Sustainable Insular Electricity Grids Under Large-Scale Renewable Integration.
A large share of the recent renewable energy sources (RES) installed capacity has already taken place in insular electricity grids, since these regions are preferable due to their high RES potential. However, the increasing share of RES in the generation mix of insular power systems presents a big challenge in the efficient management of the insular distribution networks, mainly due to the limited predictability and the high variability of renewable generation, features that make RES plants non-dispatchable, in conjunction with the relevant small size of these networks. The Smart Grid Initiative, integrating advanced sensing technologies, intelligent control methods and bi-directional communications into the contemporary electricity grid, provides excellent opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and better integration of distributed generation, including RES, such as wind and photovoltaic systems, coexisting with centralized generation units within an active network.
POLITO is studying the possible integration of wave energy production in various applications to grid connected renewable energy generation.