By Kristy Dorsey

Edinburgh start-up Mocean Energy has secured a six-figure investment deal to accelerate commercialisation of its wave energy technology.

The company has raised £612,000 in a funding round led by business angel syndicate Equity Gap along with Old College Capital, the University of Edinburgh’s in-house investment fund, and the Scottish Investment Bank. That equity funding unlocked a further £250,000 from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

Set up in 2015, Mocean develops ocean wave energy converters (WECs) for markets such as the oil and gas and utility sectors. Its lead product is the Blue Star converter, which is designed to power subsea oil and gas equipment.

Managing director Cameron McNatt – who founded the company along with Chris Retzler, a co-founder and former principal scientist of Pelamis Wave Power – said Mocean is working to produce a commercially-available wave machine delivering low-carbon power for future fleets of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

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AUVs are increasingly being used for the inspection, repair and maintenance of subsea equipment, but they require power that is generated by offshore gas turbines, which generates emissions. Blue Star aims to provide a more environmentally friendly alternative.

“Blue Star has been created from first principles to operate autonomously in remote locations and deliver green energy for a range of applications, including scientific ocean monitoring, aquaculture, oil and gas, and delivering energy to remote communities,” Mr McNatt said.

“We are currently working with firms in the Scottish supply chain to build and deliver our first prototype, which will commence testing at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney next year.”

Work on this 30-tonne machine is being carried out by Fife-based AJS Production, a specialist in offshore fabrication. The half-scale test version uses a hinged floating raft that captures the ocean flow to charge onboard batteries, from which electricity can then be exported through a cable. Once completed, the machine will undergo preliminary testing at Burntisland before being transported to Orkney.

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The build and testing of this half-scale version has been backed by £3.3 million in funding from Wave Energy Scotland, the technology development body set up by the Scottish Government in 2015 in the wake of the demise of Pelamis and Aquamarine Power. Its role is to support the sector in the Government’s pursuit of its net-zero carbon targets.

“The equity funding is a tremendous boost and underscores our ambition to deliver a commercial product,” Mr McNatt added.

“As well as supporting our technology development pathway, this will allow us to create two new full-time posts which will bring an increased focus on finding the right kind of industry partners to drive our commercialisation goals. Crucially, it also brings on board three new non-executive board members who bring a wealth of experience to help us deliver our vision.”

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Mocean, which currently employs 12 people, has already announced a pilot project with the Oil and Gas Technology Centre, oil major Chrysaor and subsea specialists EC-OG and Modus to study the potential use of the Blue Star prototype to power a subsea battery and remote underwater vehicle.

These efforts come as the wider oil and gas industry focuses on integrating production with low-carbon solutions to cut green house emissions. At the moment, the production of oil and gas accounts for about 3 per cent of total UK emissions.

Equity Gap director Fraser Lusty said: “Mocean Energy has an exciting technology backed by some very sound science and ideally placed to help the oil and gas sector decarbonise its operations, with other world-wide applications to follow.”

Kerry Sharp, director of the Scottish Investment Bank, added: “Bold and ambitious low carbon technology companies like Mocean Energy are fundamental to Scotland’s transition to a net-zero emission economy. This latest injection of funding, alongside the significant Innovate UK funding, will allow the team at Mocean to move ever closer to fully commercialising their ground-breaking wave power technology.”