Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 133

M
ARINET is an €11m EU research infrastructure project
funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)
that since 2011 has run a network of 29 world class
research facilities. This pan-European network allows researchers
and SMEs free transnational access to 45 state-of-the-art
facilities to test new marine renewable energy technologies – such
as wind, wave, tidal and hybrids. Facility costs are paid by the
European Commission and range from €1,500-30,000 a week,
covering technology readiness levels (TRL) 2-7, from small to large
laboratories and test sites.
Before MARINET, many devices were developed in an
ad hoc
fashion, resulting in failures in a misguided rush to get full scale
prototypes into the sea. Investment losses, a slow rate of
technology development and credibility issues consequently
followed. MARINET promotes a standardised approach that first
requires small scale tank tests, then intermediate tests, and finally
large scale field trials. This structured approach is gaining
acceptance worldwide. User groups are required to show that they
are following this plan and to state information on any stages
previously achieved.
User groups that are granted access have to provide objectives for
the testing period and beyond, a physical model/components to
be tested, a detailed test plan including specifications on
instrumentation and data acquisition, as well as the capacity to
test and analyse the collected data (only partial support offered
by some facilities) and to report the results (mandatory for the
post-access obligations).
Testing is challenging even if free. Lab set-up, model construction
and instrumentation are major challenges, as is the cost of the
model, which isn’t covered. Users can participate for free in the
workshops and courses organised by MARINET to get accustomed
to laboratory practices and to help close the gap between
industry and research.
Re-access
A key hallmark of MARINET’s success is the occurrence of repeat
access to facilities. The following mini-profiles demonstrate how
this played out for three companies as they progressed through
subsequent phases of testing.
Floating Power Plant is a Danish company with a hybrid wave and
wind platform. Since 1995, they have made numerical models,
scaled tests of devices and components, and successfully tested a
37 metre-wide platform, P37, for over two years, reaching TRL 6.
Facing the step of designing a commercial platform, the P80,
Floating Power Plant applied to MARINET for support and it was
granted twice. Thanks to this, they finalised the overall design of
their commercial device and developed confidence in their
numerical models, putting the company closer to commercialisation
and opening negotiations for commercial contracts.
W2Power is another hybrid platform combining wind and wave. Its
development is led by SMEs – Pelagic Power AS and EnerOcean
(Norway, Spain). They won MARINET support three times. The first
access helped in validation of a lightweight semi-submersible
platform. The second access characterised the platform motions
under complex wave conditions and led to the design of improved
wave absorbers that were next tested in the third access with
preliminary control strategies. Thanks to MARINET,W2Power
passed from TRLs 2-3 to TRL 4, and the ability of the group to test
and analyse the collected data improved significantly.
Finally, NEMOS, a German SME, is developing an innovative
system to generate electricity from waves. They applied for
MARINET support at TRL 3 to reach TRL 5. Access was granted
three times. The main objective of these tests was to get real sea
data of forces and absorbed energy to validate models and to
improve the accuracy of full scale energy output predictions.
Most users expressed satisfaction in the programme, and strongly
commended the staff at the facilities, who in many cases
exceeded expectations in terms of their abilities to manage
uncertainties that accompany model testing.
Final call
The MARINET project opened its sixth and last call in early 2015.
This experience will be on top of the 159 accesses already
granted in the previous five calls (of 256 applications from 21
different EU countries), totalling 659 equivalent weeks of testing.
Lucia Margheritini
Associate Professor
Department of Civil Engineering
Aalborg University – DK
Gerry Sutton
MARINET Co-ordinator
University College Cork
te l :
+353 021 4250041
How an FP7 research infrastructure project contributed to incredible
advancements in marine renewable energy technology development in Europe,
as Lucia Margheritini explains
MARINET: free transnational access
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
I S S U E S I X
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