In a recent Q&A Portugal Country Manager Miguel Silva helps set the scene from base camp in Viana do Castelo. A hive of activity since a 16MEUR investment in summer 2020, the site will form the launchpad for HiWave-5 and further support the long-term development of supply and service capacity for commercial wave energy farms.
What have been CorPower’s key developments since its multi-million investment in Viana do Castelo in July 2020?
Since the investment announcement back in July 2020 we have achieved a number of our preliminary objectives including the development of a new Manufacturing, Research & Development Centre. This building is prepared for two main tasks. The first being the Composite Hull Development Programme, and later the integration of the hull with the PTO (Power Take Off) system which is being constructed in Sweden. To make this happen, we have installed a new medium voltage power line along with comprehensive systems which support the composite development and fabrication. This includes air cleaning systems and environmental control together with sufficient health and safety systems to operate all the tasks required for the composite winding cell. Meanwhile, we have also been installing and commissioning our filament winding machine. In parallel, we have developed a material qualification programme, that is informing our designers in Sweden with the necessary data to complete the design of the hull. In addition, we are gaining the necessary expertise to operate the filament winding machine, which is truly innovative in terms of its dimensions and the overall approach to manufacturing and fabrication.
What facilities does CorPower have in Viana do Castelo?
CorPower has chosen the Port City of Viana do Castelo in northern Portugal as the primary base for the Composite Hull Development Programme. Our main building will have two distinct areas – the first dedicated to the composite development programme and the fabrication of four hulls, for four separate Wave Energy Converters due for deployment in the next two years. The other area is set aside for the integration, and later on the Operation and Maintenance of the devices. Later this year members from our Swedish team will arrive, together with the PTO system, to complete the integration process with the composite hull from Portugal ahead of preparations for deployment at sea. After deployment and the necessary number of hours of operations, we will be able to easily retrieve our devices from the sea due to the base location less than 50m from the water. From there we will execute our O&M tasks from inside the building making any necessary repairs and upgrades.
What is the ‘mobile factory concept’ and the rationale behind it?
The ‘mobile factory’ concept is one of the underlying principles of the Composite Hull Development Programme. Due to the dimensions of the hull it will always be a challenge to move the components through a logistics chain. However, to address this issue we have developed and continue to gather knowledge on the ‘mobile factory’ concept in Viana do Castelo. The idea is to prove and demonstrate that this mobility can be achieved, and that we can produce a high number of units near project locations. The idea is to take the factory to the deployment location where we can fabricate on-site eliminating many logistical issues, and reducing CO2 emissions related to cumbersome transportation of the hulls. We will take all the lessons learned from this first experience to complete the front-end engineering for the next mobile factories due for deployment around the world, most likely starting in Europe in the following years.
What is happening in Viana do Castelo to prepare for the HiWave-5 deployment?
There are three key activities taking place. The first one will be the installation of a new submarine cable in Agucadoura, Póvoa de Varzim. It will be unloaded here in the harbour of Viana do Castelo and reloaded to the installation vessel. Next and in parallel we are testing our anchoring system in field test in Aveiro. But most important for us here in Viana and connected to the composite program development is the actual manufacturing, fabrication of the first hull.
How will the Viana site underpin CorPower’s broader expansion plans moving forward?
As we are developing and building knowledge here in Viana do Castelo, mainly on the Composite Hull Development programme and also later on the main marine operations connected with the management of the actual devices in the wave energy array in Agucadoura, we are collecting and generating a lot of knowhow. This knowledge will always be connected to this region and the people that are living here and working with us.
How does CorPower’s investment in Portugal align with the nation’s wider renewables/ ocean energy strategy?
CorPower has taken a very active role in the broader discussion on Portugal’s National Strategy for the Sea 2030. Looking at that document, CorPower is contributing to 5 of the 10 key objectives including knowledge generation, business growth and de-carbonisation. Most importantly we are involved in one of the priority intervention areas regarding ambitious marine renewable energy targets to deliver 370MW by 2030.