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New tools to bring about a sea change in Europe’s ocean energy sector

Next-generation renewable energy technologies can struggle to move from concept to the market. The EU-funded DTOceanPlus project developed a series of open-source software tools to reduce the risks and costs associated with ocean tech development. The tools are already giving a boost to developers across the sector, supporting the EU’s transition away from fossil fuels.

©ChrisVanLennepPhoto #71123310 source: 2023

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The EU boasts more than 66 000 km of coastline, linking it to the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic Seas, and Atlantic Ocean. These waters offer a vast source of renewable energy and are expected to play a key role in Europe’s transition from fossil fuels towards renewable energies. However, we have yet to effectively harness the energy of the ocean.

The emerging technologies needed to tap into this clean, abundant and reliable resource offer enormous opportunities with regard to the EU’s energy security and green jobs. But with these opportunities come significant challenges related to performance, reliability and costs.

A new series of software tools, designed with the help of EU funding, will overcome these challenges by providing support to those involved in the selection, development and deployment of ocean energy systems. This includes technical innovators, project developers, utilities firms, investors, policymakers, insurers, regulators and standardisation bodies.

The DTOceanPlus project aimed to accelerate the commercialisation of ocean energy tech, designing a suite of tools that reduce technical risks and costs associated with developing next-generation energy technologies and assist with innovation and planning.

These tools cover the whole spectrum of the innovation process. The Structured Innovation Tool (SIT) helps with concept creation, selection and design, offering an organised approach to the innovation process. The Stage Gate Tool (SGT) employs advanced metrics to assist in decision-making and guide technology development. Deployment Tools support the entry of new ocean technologies to the market, while the Assessment Tools provide objective information about the suitability of a project for developers and investors.

“These tools cover the two most developed sources of ocean energy, namely tidal stream and wave energy,” says Pablo Ruiz-Minguela, DTOceanPlus project coordinator and head of wave energy at TECNALIA. “Public sector funders and private investors can objectively select which technologies under development to support, and decision-makers have a robust process by which to assess future deployment projects,” he adds.

The open-source tools have been made freely available to the entire ocean energy sector, to provide maximum impact and drive the industry forward. “DTOceanPlus provides a single, integrated, open-source solution that supports the entire innovation, development and deployment process for ocean energy subsystems, devices and arrays,” says Ruiz-Minguela.

New tools to power innovation

The DTOceanPlus tools all aim to reduce the risks and costs associated with innovative array designs. They can be used at different levels of complexity to support the development of ocean energy technologies at all stages of the project life cycle.

This makes them valuable to stakeholders from concept creation through to design development and commercial deployment – with increasing levels of data and support available at each stage.

“Many users across the sector will have varying requirements in terms of detail, from investors wishing for a high-level overview of a technology or project, to developers performing detailed technical assessments,” notes Ruiz-Minguela.

By combining the various software tools into a single integrated software package, DTOceanPlus simplifies the design process and equips public sector funders, private investors, and decision-makers with objective criteria to support and assess future deployment projects.

The software also includes a specific tool to evaluate projects from the economic perspective. The System Lifetime Costs (SLC) tool generates metrics on the economic performance (capital expenditure, operating expenditure and levelised cost of electricity) and financial attractiveness of a given ocean energy project.

Ongoing contributions to ocean energy

The DTOceanPlus programme comes with comprehensive online documentation, including tutorials, how-to guides, and technical explanations to guide users through the various tools. An API reference section allows developers to explore and leverage the software’s potential fully, and the suite also includes details of common ocean technology components from a global catalogue.

“I’m proud of the high level of commitment and effective team working among the various partners, particularly in the most critical times of the COVID-19 pandemic,” adds Ruiz-Minguela.

DTOceanPlus achieved a series of scientific and technological advancements in the ocean energy sector. These include digital models of ocean technologies, a framework to standardise data formats in ocean energy systems design, and three public data sets to assist members of the ocean technology sector. The team also published 11 scientific papers, from exploring the design limits of wave energy converters to legal and political barriers associated with ocean energy systems. The project also created annual reports on the impact of their communication activities.

In addition, the project held various education and training activities related to the ocean energy sector, including webinars, training sessions and workshops.

DTOceanPlus tools have already been demonstrated using real data from IDOM and CorPower, technology developers for wave energy, and tidal energy firms Nova, Sabella and Orbital. Private investors Enel Green Power and the public funding body Wave Energy Scotland are also using the tools.

“I feel pride in knowing that the open-access tools are being used by technology developers in various R&D projects to improve the cost-effectiveness of their designs,” Ruiz-Minguela concludes.

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Project details

Project acronym
Project number
Project coordinator: Spain
Project participants:
United Kingdom
United States
Total cost
€ 7 918 318
EU Contribution
€ 6 689 077
Project duration

See also

More information about project DTOceanPlus

All success stories