Ingenious floating platforms, developed by green engineer Marine Power Systems (MPS) to harvest the oceans’ wind and wave energy, aim to be the renewables sector’s next big breakthrough as they head for commercial roll-out. Flexibility and competitive pricing for extracting energy are the cornerstones of the Swansea-based company’s high-performance technology that has now produced its WindSub, WaveSub and DualSub deep water devices.

While wind power has become mainstream, wave has posed a bigger challenge and proved harder to progress. MPS’s patent-protected Subs, which for waves work off the oceans’ swell or motion, are moored to the seabed. “Our platforms are unique. They can be configured as a combined wind wave solution or on their own so effective and resilient in all conditions,” explains MPS co-founder and chief executive Dr Gareth Stockman.

“Cost-efficiency runs throughout our entire product life-cycle from the modular design and manufacture through to deployment – assembling in port and towing – to operations and maintenance.”

“There was no standard way of doing it with waves. We had to develop our own proprietary method and create a gold standard. Our production costs are competitive with fossil fuels because there is only one platform for two sources which brings down ownership and generation costs.”

“We can work with utility and energy companies to optimise capture on any off-shore site. This means we can play a game-changing role delivering for the green economy and net-zero objectives.”

Following the successful completion of a multi-million-pound design, manufacturing and testing project in Falmouth, Cornwall, MPS is working at full scale ahead of commercialisation.

It is currently developing a megawatt-scale grid connected demonstrator in Spain, part of a £12.8 million European regional funding deal, with sales expected in 2023.

Also coming on stream are a commercial DualSub operation for Orkney in 2024 and another array in the Atlantic off Wales’ south west coast, an area known as the Celtic sea.

At present MPS employs 25 but expects to double that come 2023. “We have the potential to create many manufacturing and other jobs in Wales and globally,” says Stockman.

A variety of sales models are being considered for mass production. One option is licensing MPS’s hardware and technology to international clients installing arrays, such as energy providers and those in the oil and gas industry making the transition to renewables.

Manufacturing and selling its products directly to customers is another possible route in what is expected to be global market forecast to be worth £73 billion by 2035.

So far some £25 million of public and private investment has gone into the company set up by Stockman and co-director Dr Graham Foster in 2008.

They met while studying for doctorates at Swansea University with MPS growing out of their deep shared interest in marine energy and its potential averting climate catastrophe.

Most recently a £1.7 million raise included £700,000 from 15 investors and £250,000 of match funding from the Development Bank of Wales and its Wales Angel Co-investment Fund.

“Investment is key to delivering on Wales’ ambitions for a strong, green and sustainable economy with syndicated angel investing playing a valuable role in helping to make this happen,” says Rhian Elston, the bank’s investment director.

“Investors have been attracted to Marine Power Systems because it is a business operating in a developing global market that has real momentum; creating jobs and home-grown supply chain opportunities that build Wales’ profile and support the development of a low-carbon economy.”

For Stockman “the Welsh Government has been behind us all the way and with the Development Bank they have been critical in us being right at the heart if the green growth agenda.”

Now MPS is in the throes of a Crowdcube campaign, which has already beaten its £2 million target.

“Crowdfunding is also good way to raise our profile,” adds Stockman. “Over the past couple of years there has been a huge change in people’s awareness and concern about the environment.

“Renewable energy is a ‘how and when’, not an ‘if’. We don’t subdue nature, we go with it.”

Original article published in the business section of the Daily Express on 30/06/2021

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