Activities in Ocean Energy

Ghent University is a proud founder of the IBN-Offshore Energy

The IBN-Offshore Energy is a network of Flemish companies innovating in the field of offshore energy (offshore wind, floating wind, wave & tidal). The activities of the IBN Offshore Energy are oriented towards facilitating innovation in this area, the mission of the support team is to support the process from back of the envelope idea towards a project plan for an innovatie product or service ready to be executed. 

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MET-CERTIFIED aims to increase the adoption of insurable and therefore bankable marine energy projects in the 2 SEAS region through the development of internationally recognised standards and certification schemes in the sector.

The project will be of big interest to many  stakeholders around certification, from banks and insurers to consenting authorities, end-users, test facilities and classification bureaus, etc. Our website will be updated soon, so stay tuned!

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WEC concepts

Today, we are a partner in the development of the Laminaria (supported by a.o. OCEAN ERA-Net) wave energy concept. We are also involved in the study of other concepts, where we assist our partners in assessing their technology for a specific site, help them interpret their measurement results, ... 


FlanSea is an IWT R&D project led by our industrial partner DEME Blue Energy, with a budget of about €3.7M. The consortium further includes a number of Flemish SMEs and Ghent University. The goal of this consortium is to develop a Flemish wave energy converter adapted to moderate wave climates. As a starting point, a test buoy, the Wave Pioneer, was developed in order to validate the simulation models, to understand the economics behind wave energy, to experience the challenges (e.g. efficiency of the drive train, the forces on the components, … ), … During the winter of 2013-2014 the Wave Pioneer will be placed just outside the Port of Ostend. The consortium is planning to include the lessons learned and the knowledge obtained in a subsequent project.

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We were involved in the EU FP6 project SEEWEC. The consortium included industrial players such as Fred Olsen and Bosch-Rexroth but also the local SME Spiromatic. The project developed an actual wave energy converter. Our involvement was related to e.g. the behaviour of composite buoys slamming the water, for which we have done correlation tests at the “Watersportbaan” in Ghent.

Power-take-off (PTO)

A key component in wave energy is the PTO which converts the absorbed mechanical energy into electrical energy. Handling the typical oscillatory movement of the mechanical components is a challenge. Supported by internal IOF funds and funds from the Scottish government (WES) we are developing a new type of PTO based on a power sharing transmission. Next to this, we evaluate new hydraulic based concepts.

We have been working with device developers on their Power Take and concepts therefore. Recently, we have filed a patent application for a PTO concept of our own. We are currently further studying this concept as well as are we realising a first prototype.  This project is funded by internal funds of Ghent University and by funds from the HIE-WES PTO call.

Wave Emulator: a Dry Test rig for Wave Energy Power Take-Offs

An interactive controlled Wave Emulator provides torques and speeds towards a power take-off (PTO) under test. The Wave emulator is controlled by a hydrodynamic wave energy converter (WEC) model taking account for the PTO actions, thus providing a situation for the PTO receiving the same torques as if it was functioning in a WEC at sea. Sea state conditions can be changed for both irregular and regular waves. The control is performed by a Rapid Control Prototyping card which enhances the setup's versatility. Moreover, the scaling and control can be adapted to correspond to different WEC's or other renewable energy converters, such as wind turbines.

The present lab setup originates from the FlanSea project where a consortium of UGent research groups and industrial partners designed and developed a research test buoy, the Wave Pioneer, to transform motions of the ocean waves into electrical energy. The setup was built to test the proposed electrical machine and drive combination before deploying it at sea. It enables a.o. the assessment of the dynamic and thermal abilities of the chosen topology as well as the performance of control strategies.

Array modelling

The WECWakes project is funded by the EU FP7 HYDRALAB IV programme, and is coordinated by Ghent University as part of a consortium of 7 international partners. Commercial exploitation of wave energy will require the installation of large numbers of wave energy converters (WECs) arranged in an array or a farm.

Within WECWakes we are validating simulation models predicting the interaction between WECs in an array through measurements on a large array of 25 scaled WECs placed in the DHI wave tank. Our software (MILDWAVE) is available in a semi-commercial way.

More information on WECWakes

Gen4Wave - Coastal and Ocean Basin

Gen4Wave is an initiative originating in Ghent University, within the framework of Generaties, the Flemish innovation platform for renewable energy. In the meantime, the partnership has been extended with major players both from academia, industry and government. Gen4Wave wants to ensure that Flemish industries can position themselves within the value chain of wave and tidal energy. There is still quite some potential to operate in this value chain given the fact that the market has not yet been consolidated.

Gen4Wave consists of three pillars. A first pillar is the Gen4WaveTank, a coastal and ocean basin, open test&R&D infrastructure that includes a water basin in which waves, currents and wind can be generated in independent directions. It will complement our existing wave flume. A second pillar is the Gen4Wave Energy Platform, a platform set up to inform the stakeholders on the potential of the Gen4WaveTank, new trends in wave and tidal energy, … and to initiate new R&D projects. Supporting the start-up of such R&D projects is the third pillar. At the end of 2013 the possibilities to finance this were being explored.

Resource analysis

Within the framework of the BELSPO projects OPTIEP and BOREAS we have characterized the potential of wave, tidal and offshore energy on the Belgian Continental Shelf (BCS). It was concluded that on the BCS there is little potential for tidal energy, while for wave energy there are some zones that could be characterised as having a moderate wave climate. The BCS climate provides ideal conditions for safe testing of new wave energy concepts. We are involved in shaping such test infrastructure on the BCS.