WavEC was created in 2003 with three main motivations: 1) to promote wave energy as a new industry in Portugal and beyond (from 2007 onwards this was also extended to offshore wind and in 2018 also to floating solar PV) through strategic and technical support to companies, R&D organizations and public administration and government; 2) support the European effort in the sector and 3) integrate researchers after getting their doctoral degree. Throughout the first 20 years WavEC has also pursued a permanent effort to disseminate offshore renewable energy opportunities and challenges to expert publics but also to the general population.
The attitude and activity of WavEC in its first 20 years clearly shows the commitment to accelerate an affordable, secure, and sustainable energy transition and to support the growth of the blue economy. Furthermore, since its start WavEC has been able to identify trends at an earlier phase and to adjust itself to these trends, while creating the proper perception in the industry and society for the opportunities and challenges to come.
This was the case initially with wave energy, which led to the refurbishment and resume of operation of the 400 kW Pico plant in the Azores between 2005 and 2007 – the plant was kept in operation for 10 years – and the support to the legislation of the wave energy Pilot Zone at São Pedro de Moel in 2007, while supporting more than a dozen wave energy technology developers in their effort to develop and test their technologies, among which AWS, Waveroller, Pelamis, Wedge or CorPower, just to mention a few.
In between, WavEC had an important role in the creation of the European Ocean Energy Association (now Ocean Energy Europe), being one of the five co-funders and member of the Board since its creation in 2005. The effort to support ocean energy in an international context was also pursuit by providing the technical secretariat until today to Ocean Energy Systems, the implementing agreement of the IEA for ocean energy.
Training young researchers for this new area of knowledge was also a concern to WavEC, which led to the coordination of 3 Marie Curie ITN (Wavetrain, Wavetrain2 and OceaNET) as well as the annual collaboration with IST in the offer of the specialization on ocean energy and offshore wind within the EUREC Master on Renewable Energy.
A few years later, 2007, WavEC was able to identify the opportunity of floating offshore wind for Portugal and the WindFloat as the technology vehicle for this development. This led to the test of the WindFloat prototype in Aguçadoura by EDP and Principle Power between 2011 and 2016 and in 2019 the start of operation of the WindFloat Atlantic. WavEC extended the experience acquired with wave energy to this new field of offshore renewable energy supporting these projects in numerical modelling, environmental monitoring and impact assessment, consenting and permitting, O&M and logistics, techno-economic modelling, mooring and umbilical design, etc. However, the impact of WavEC on offshore wind expands beyond technology as it is recognized as having a major contribution to the development of the present Portuguese policy for offshore wind, namely the 10 GW target for 2023.
A similar approach was followed in the development of solutions for floating solar PV in dams between 2017 and 2022. Together with EDP and other partners, WavEC was involved in the development of the two first floating solar PV farms in Portugal: the one at Alto do Rabagão and the one at Alqueva.
Recognizing the relevance of offshore aquaculture for the future of mankind and its relevance for the development of the Blue Economy on one hand and the potential to use its expertise and tools in this new field on the other hand, WavEC became involved in the design of new offshore cages for Norwegian clients in 2016 and supported the introduction of salmon fish farming in Portugal in 2017 and in Morrocco in the following year.
Another field where WavEC was a pioneer is the production and storage of hydrogen in the context of offshore wind farms. Together with Technip FMC, EDP and CEIIA the Beyond project was developed in 2020 to address its technical, economic and market challenges.
More recently WavEC is expanding its expertise into the digitalization of the blue economy, by attracting several research projects to develop Digital Twins in the context of floating offshore wind, namely the Horizon Europe ILIAD project and the RRP ATE project.
Simultaneously, WavEC is pursuing its efforts to set test and demonstration infrastructures for ocean energy and floating offshore wind in Portugal. This includes the support to the Free Technology Zone in Viana do Castelo and the Aguçadoura test site. With respect to this last test infrastructure, WavEC partnered with INESC TEC to acquire the majority of the shares of Companhia de Energia Oceânica, the owner of the Aguçadoura test site. This test site will host CorPower technology in 2023 and other technologies are underway to be tested from 2025 onwards.
In its 20th year of operation and to properly address the challenges and opportunities of the 10 GW of offshore wind in Portugal by 2030, WavEC has established an exclusive partnership with OWC/ABL Group to jointly offer a complete set of services to companies with interest in the auctions to be announced this year and in the forthcoming years.
As a conclusion it can be said that WavEC is very alive and active, supported by a very competent and young team of enthusiastic people fully committed to an affordable, secure, and sustainable energy transition. Along its first 20 years WavEC has raised as a very well-known and credible organization in Portugal, Europe and Internationally, with a very extensive network of more than 200 partners and clients developed in more than 60 R&D projects and 200 services representing a global investment of more than 500 M€. This success is due to multiple reasons, among which the quality and dedication of its staff and board members, both the present ones and the many that where with us along the years, and the trust of our partners, clients, and funding agencies.
Being the founder of WavEC and its President of the Board for almost 20 years, I want to leave a message of gratitude to all that contributed to the success of WavEC and its wonderful work environment. As well I leave my best wishes for its future under the guidance of Marco Alves, the new CEO of WavEC and a good friend.