Gurit’s Strategic Business Development team, which is tasked with researching, selecting and building new long-term businesses for Gurit, identified ocean energy as a promising direction for the company. Ocean energy includes energy from wave motion and tidal stream and is estimated to have a practical recoverable capacity which is approximately five times the equivalent of the current installed wind energy capacity, according to Gurit. Industry experts and independent government research predict a year-on-year growth in the use of ocean energy of 25-50%. Gurit has therefore established a dedicated Ocean Energy team to focus on building alliances with wave and tidal power developers.
“Clearly the market potential is too big to ignore,” says Tom Royle, Head of Gurit Strategic Business Development. “By targeting those developers who we believe have strong intellectual property from the earliest opportunity we can not only create long-term successful alliances, but also become an enabler for device developers and build a significant sustainable market for Gurit products and services.”
According to Royle, tidal energy is around 15 years behind the wind energy industry in terms of maturity, and wave energy is around 20 years behind wind, but these timescales are likely to be reduced given experience gained in other sectors. There is a wide variety of different concepts for the capture of wave or tidal power and a few designs have already been proven on a commercial scale. Several developers are planning small commercial ‘farms’ of 10-30 MW within the next 2-3 years.
Tidal energy is predictable and repeatable, unlike wind, and wave energy, although not as regular or predictable, is very abundant in many regions around the world. Europe, including the UK, holds 16% of the world’s ocean energy resource and 60% of the technology developers.
Gurit’s composites products and services for the ocean energy industry include:
- prototyping and series manufacture;
- structural engineering;
- tooling products;
- high performance epoxy adhesives, wet laminating and infusion products;
- Corecell™ structural foam core material; and
- prepreg and SPRINT® structural laminating products.