The Wavebob

Labels: Ireland

WavebobWavebob is an Irish company established by physicist William Dick in 1999. The company has developed a unique Wave Energy Convertor – ‘Wavebob’, which harnesses the immense power of the ocean to produce clean, renewable energy.

Headquartered in Ireland but operating on a global basis, the Wavebob is a floating buoy device that will automatically adjust its response to suit the prevailing wave climate and so maximise the amount of useful power that may be delivered to the electricity grid on-shore. [i]
The Wavebob is an axi-symmetric, self-reacting point absorber, primarily operating in the heave mode.  It is specifically designed to recover useful power from ocean wave energy, and to be deployed in large arrays offshore.It incorporates a number of highly innovative features, protected by a series of World patents that have been assigned to the Company.

The following are considered to be key features:
Survivability:  The Wavebob is an axi-symmetric buoy structure on slack moorings which makes it inherently sea-worthy.  Its ability to de-tune in seconds is vitally important in a resonating energy absorber.

Response to long period and high waves: Unlike all other self-reacting heaving buoys, the Wavebob’s natural frequency may be set to match the typical ocean swell (Atlantic 10”, or Pacific 15”), facilitating good energy absorption. It can ride very large waves and still recover useful power.

Tuning and control: The Wavebob has exceptional facilities for almost instantaneous tuning and longer period adjustment of natural frequencies and bandwidth. On-board autonomous control is a feature, and there is considerable scope for intelligent systems, for example individual units co-operating in arrays. These are highly significant attributes in changing wave climates, so typical of the North Atlantic.

Accessibility: The outer torus has a diameter of the order of 20metres, and an overall height of 8 metres, allowing adequate space for the power train and control systems below decks.  As a large floating structure, Wavebob is relatively stable in all but the most severe storms


Low operating and maintenance costs, high availability:  O&M costs have a massive bearing on the costs / kWh delivered. Only well-proven and standard marine hydraulic components and generators are installed.  The Wavebob typically carries three or four motor-alternator sets, all or some of which may be entrained, depending on incident wave energy. In-built redundancy facilitates remote switching and high availability when weather conditions might preclude maintenance visits. The main device remains on site (for up to 25 years), with individual components being replaced and taken ashore for servicing as necessary.


Low capital costs: The main hull structures will be assembled from smaller pre-cast and extruded concrete units manufactured using widely available and standard processes. There is no requirement for deep water facilities or dry docks. The main hull structures would be towed to site and attached to prepared moorings.

High power output:  Average electrical power 500kW and greater is expected from North Atlantic sites.  Power output will be synchronous with low VAr.

Further Information

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http://www.wavebob.com/downloads/irish_examiner20_10_09.pdf

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