Demonstration OWC Pico Plant

The first big project managed by the WavEC is called Demonstration OWC (Oscillating Water Column), a national project that aimed to recover and test the OWC Pico Plant, in the Azores, in order to demonstrate the viability of this technology.The project started in 2004 and finished in 2006. In the following year and after two years of its management, the WavEC became the owner of the Pico device.

With its own human and financial means, the WavEC continued the maintenance and monitoring activities of the Pico Plant since 2006. The data collected with tests on the OWC has improved the experience and knowledge on this technology and can be adapted on other devices, for both coastal and offshore structures.

Funding and support

Demonstration OWC was a national funded project of the DEMTEC programme (PRIME) and private investors (WavEC’s associates), with large financial support of EDP – Electricity of Portugal - and EFACEC – Portuguese supplier of electrical equipment.

The partners involved in this project were our associates:
- EDA – Electricity of Azores
- EDP – Electricity of Portugal
- Instituto Superior Técnico
- Irmãos Cavaco
- LNEG (former INETI)
- Irmãos Cavaco and Consulmar
- Kymaner - company that contributed to the project and joined the WavEC at the end of 2007 for technical support.

Five years of Experience

The project in three phases

The development of the project has gone through 3 important phases, refurbishment, test and improvement. The first one consisted mainly in the refurbishment of the Pico Plant mechanical and electrical equipment initially installed in the plant. It took place between October 2003 and September 2005. Mechanical components were recovered and the generator re-connected. The electronic and control equipment, initially inside the plant were relocated for security reasons into two containers at a distance of around 100 meters inland. Beside, a relief valve was installed in order to reduce the pressure in the chamber and allow the turbine operation with higher wave conditions.

The second phase of the refurbishment project of the Pico Plant consisted in testing the existing equipment, from September 2005 to May 2006. During these tests, excessive vibrations of the turbine and its support were encountered, limiting the operational rotational speed around 1200 rpm. The development of these tests ended with an incident on the turbine guide vanes.

From June to November of 2005 and from July to November 2006, two members of the WavEC team, namely Frank Neumann (Operator of the Pico Plant) and Ana Brito Melo (Data processing) were on site for the development of the equipment and new tests. The installation of new turbine guide vanes and tests marked the beginning of the new phase of operation. The refurbishment operations of the Pico Plant were accompanied by demonstration and dissemination activities. Papers, technical and scientific communications and presentations in conferences took place in this period, as well as training courses and organized visits for people/groups with interests in learning more about this technology. On the 8th of November of 2005 and 31st of October 2006 the WavEC organized the project’s Public Demonstration Sessions and a DVD is available for dissemination purpose.

After the end of the project

Maintenance and monitoring activities continue to take place at the OWC Pico Plant after the end of the project with progress at both structural and electronic levels.

General Information

Funding: PRIME / DEMTEC (National Public Funding) and associates (Private funding)
Team Coordinator: Frank Neumann
Total Funding: € 797 598 ,00
WavEC Funding: € 538 410,00
Duration: 2004-2006 (24 months + 12)
Coordinator: Wave Energy Centre
Other partners: EDP – Electricidade de Portugal, EDA – Electricidade dos Açores, Instituto
Superior Técnico, Laboratório Nacional de Energia e Geologia (former INETI), Efacec, irmãos Cavaco, Consulmar and Kymaner (technical support)
Website: www.pico-owc.net