Energy from ocean waves: the Italian perspective
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22 giugno 2016
Politecnico di Milano
Sala Conferenze - DEIB
Via Ponzio, 34
Electricity generation from clean, safe and sustainable energy sources is one of the main challenges of the 21th century. Ocean waves represent a vast untapped energy source, which could contribute to energy portfolio diversification and to economic growth in coastal and remote area, as well. Moreover, wave power has some attractive and promising features. Compared to other renewable energy sources, like solar and wind energy, ocean wave power is characterized by higher energy density, less hour-to-hour variability, higher predictability and lower visual impact. Thanks to its huge potential, ocean energy technologies are currently drawing large interest, particularly in the European Union, which is at the forefront in this technological challenge. The European Commission is now implementing a policy framework to support ocean energy with the aim of installing 100 GW of wave and tidal energy capacity by 2050.
Nowadays, although wave energy technologies are still not economically competitive, a number of devices are starting to be rolled out for large scale development and several others are close to prototyping stage. In this context, the mild Mediterranean wave climate, compared to the oceans, has limited the research until the last few years. However, the interest in wave electricity production is now steadily increasing, particularly in Italy, as highly energetic Atlantic sites have been proven to be too extreme for devices survivability.
In this talk, we will first give an overview of wave energy production: from the physical concepts, to the assessment of the available resource, to the classification of the different types of wave energy converters (WECs). Then, we will present our recent research on wave energy exploitation in Italian seas. Starting by discussing on the feasibility of wave electricity production off the Italian coasts, we’ll analyze the performance of a number of existing devices at some of the most promising Italian locations. We will show that deploying classic wave energy converters in Italian seas would not be cost effective, but if the devices were properly resized, their performance in energy conversion would become economically attractive also for our wave climate. Then, we will present a numerical model of a point absorber WEC directly driven by a linear generator and specifically designed for mild wave climates. A key point of the model is the coupling between the hydrodynamic and electromagnetic kernel, which allows taking into account the effect of hydrodynamic interactions on the power take off system, as a whole. Finally, we will conclude by discussing on the effects of spatial interactions among different WECs on energy conversion and we will provide preliminary advice for the design of small wave energy farms in the Italian offshore.
Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at “Politecnico di Milano”
Research areas: model identification for integrated simulation of electrical and electronic circuits, optimization techniques of electric and magnetic devices, techniques and analysis models for energy optimization, modeling and analysis of electrical solutions for transport.
Associate Professor of Hydraulics at “Politecnico di Milano”
Main research: wave energy conversion, wave-structure interaction, environmental-industrial hydrodynamics.