But now the Swedish company CorPower Ocean Portugal have successfully installed their own HiWave-5 system, and it’s working.

Estimates predict that wave power could make up to 30 percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2050. Wave power also has the potential to become one of the lowest-cost forms of electricity generation with costs now approximately half of wind energy and a quarter of solar.

How to harness the power of the Atlantic

Harnessing the power of waves is notoriously difficult. The Swedish approach is different. The WEC design from CorPower – which captures energy from the rise and fall of waves using a buoy tethered to the seabed with a tensioned mooring system – is engineered to be built in 10MW clusters, with 30 units connecting to a collection hub through which the power is exported to shore via 33/66kV cables, such as are used on offshore wind farms.

Since 2008 several companies have tried to install a variety of solutions in northern Portugal, but no power has been generated and the equipment retrieved and sent to other locations or scrapped. The Atlantic is very powerful, especially in the north of Portugal, as any dedicated surfer will tell you.

Waves or tide?

It’s important to understand that there are two different ways to try and capture the power of the sea, wave power and tidal power. Wave power as a descriptive term is different than tidal power, which seeks to primarily capture the energy of the current caused by the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon. However, wave power and tidal power are not fundamentally distinct and have significant cross-over in technology and implementation. Other forces can create currents, including breaking waves, wind, the Coriolis effect, cabling, and temperature and salinity differences.

Many failed projects

The Aguçadoura Wave Farm opened in 2008 was a wave farm located 5 km (3 mi) offshore near Póvoa de Varzim north of Porto in Portugal. The farm was designed to use three Pelamis Wave Energy Converters to convert the motion of the ocean surface waves into electricity, totalling to 2.25 MW in total installed capacity. The farm was officially opened on 23 September 2008, by the Portuguese Minister of Economy. The wave farm was shut down two months after the official opening in November 2008.

Other projects followed, it’s no simple task to tackle the Atlantic but until CorPower brought their unique solution to harnessing the power of the Atlantic by using tidal power rather than wave power no electricity was generated.

Connected to the national grid

After connecting to a pre-installed UMACK anchor on the seabed, the device was connected to the Portuguese national grid through a subsea export cable. The system will now undergo a commissioning program, with functions and operational modes being gradually verified. Operations and Maintenance (O&M) methods for offshore service access, device retrieval and tow-back to the on-land service base in Viana do Castelo will also be tested. Photo: Engineers laying the cable to connect the CorPower system to the national grid.

Lowest-cost form of electricity generation

It is claimed that this method of generating alternative eco-friendly electricity is the lowest cost solution. It’s cheaper than wind power and solar panels. Sounds like a win-win solution.


Resident in Portugal for 50 years, publishing and writing about Portugal since 1977. Privileged to have seen, firsthand, Portugal progress from a dictatorship (1974) into a stable democracy. 

Paul Luckman