The Scottish University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and Nortek look to the future of wave energy off the west coast of Lewis.

Huge waves have been recorded off the west coast of Lewis in the Western Scottish Isles. During storm force winds in 2012, measurement buoys detected waves averaging 14m (45ft) in height and reaching a maximum of more than 25m (82ft). 

"Recent measurements and modelling studies have confirmed that the wave power resource off the Outer Hebrides is amongst the best at the UK coast," said Mr Arne Vogler.

 "Based on average wave power of 75kW/m as measured over a one year period in 2011/12 and a 200km coastline from Butt of Lewis to Barra, the total mean power dissipated in our nearshore environment would be 15GW - equivalent to 12 nuclear power plants, such as Torness."

Mr Vogler added that good progress has been made by marine energy converter companies to overcome the challenge to develop technology able to stand up to the most extreme conditions.  Now that wave power devices have proven their ability to survive extreme conditions, the focus has shifted towards an increased energy production and reduction of cost of electricity produced.

As a next step towards harnessing this wave power, Mr Vogler and his team at Lews Castle College of the UHI are commencing a monitoring programme in which they will be using multiple Nortek acoustic instruments to measure currents and waves at the Butt of Lewis and other areas of interest along the coastline.  

Arne Vogler preparing for deployment.

Arne Vogler preparing for the deployment of a Nortek AWAC.

Among the Nortek instruments chosen by UHI are the AWAC and the Signature series.  The former is Nortek’s tried and trusted, turn-key solution for online current and wave measurements.

The Signature is Nortek’s new range of instruments designed around the patented AD2CP platform and is capable of 16Hz sampling rates with very flexible measurement capabilities. The sampling rate, flexibility and the ability to measure velocities in the vertical make the Signature1000/500 the perfect choice for quantifying turbulence and energy levels throughout the water column.

Mr Ramsay Lind (Nortek) is “very pleased that UHI selected Nortek sensors for this project. The AWAC and Signature Instrumentation are unique pieces of kit capable of meeting the data requirements set out by UHI for this complex renewable research project.  We look forward to working with UHI to achieve the best possible outcome."

Apart from acoustic instruments UHI will also use Nortek SeaDarQ radars to monitor waves. Mr Sicco Kamminga of Nortek in the Netherlands adds: "the use of radar for site selection for renewable energy projects is new but has great opportunity. The Nortek SeaDarQ is a tool to observe larger areas in combination with local measurements using our line of acoustic products." 

Installation of instruments and radars is foreseen in the summer of 2015. Mr Vogler is: "very eager to start using the new equipment to improve the understanding of wave and current distribution and processes across the site to inform requirements for future technology capable of harnessing this potential at competitive costs."