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The EU imports 53.8% of its primary energy (Eurostat, 2006) and this could rise to 66.6% in 2030 (DG TREN, 2008), which makes the EU dependent on imported energy and consequently economically vulnerable. Moreover, usage of traditional fossil fuel has been proven to cause global warming with likely climate change as a consequence in the long term.

Therefore, in 2008, the EC has set as a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% (compared with the 1990 levels), to increase the share of renewable energy up to 20% and to improve energy efficiency by 20% by the year 2020. The oceans are an enormous, unexploited provider of renewable energy. A number of different technologies for wave energy conversion have been developed, but up to now a very limited number of them have resulted in first trials of commercial deployment beyond the prototype stage. The initial work on the FOł wave energy converter started in 2001, with the objective of developing a cost effective and environmental friendly technology for wave energy conversion. Initial research was conducted at the Department of Mathematics, University of Oslo (Norway), and at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. The FOł system uses several point absorbers placed in a grid to extract energy from the waves.

A project group was established and key patents were filed in 2003. Following conceptual design and theoretical modelling, the general design was developed. A 1:20 scale model of the FOł was tested in the Wave tank of the Ocean Basin Laboratory at Sintef in Trondheim early 2004. The scale model was tested both in operational conditions and for survival / extreme seas conditions. The tests confirmed the production concept, and the excellent properties of the structure in the sea.

Following successful testing, it was decided to go for sea trials. A complete laboratory platform at scale 1:3 was constructed at the Brevik ship yard in Norway and was launched in the sea in February 2005 off the southern coast of Norway. This device is used for extensive monitoring and testing, and gives important input to the development of the next generation plants. Data from this test platform will be used in this research project.

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1:3 laboratory rig “Buldra”

Specific Targeted Research Project
Priority 6-1 : Sustainable Energy Systems
Scientific officer : Mr T. Langlois d'Estaintot

The SEEWEC project is funded under the 6th Framework Programme.
The financial support from the European Community is gratefully acknowledged.