customer story

Soto helps renewable energy pioneer Wave Swell Energy in its quest to harness the ocean’s power

Soto and a standout Australian alternative energy pioneer are making waves together. (Pardon the pun!)

Harnessing ocean waves for energy is a fast-developing area of renewable power technology. Corporations and governments around the world are investing in fixed as well as floating plants to convert wave motion into power, and, thanks to Wave Swell Energy (WSE), Australia is part of the leading edge of this quiet revolution.

Soto is collaborating closely with WSE, which has created a unique proprietary variant of oscillating water column (OWC) technology. The WSE OWCs work with unidirectional flow of waves, avoiding the inefficiency and complexity of bidirectional OWCs, which require turbines to operate on receding (reverse) wave flow. This innovation also lowers the operating cost of the turbine. This is just the sort of combination of creativity and sophisticated engineering that we at Soto love to work with. 

Off the east coast of King Island in Tasmania, WSE is installing a 200kW wave-powered turbine generator. Currently in its execution phase, this project will eventually generate and feed electricity back to the electricity grid. As a likely bonus, it could also be used to power a desalination plant on the island.

Soto’s tandem relationship with WSE on the King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project is especially prestigious as the generator will be part of a world-first hybrid electricity grid, with solar and wind power generation included in the overall energy mix. A win for this project would demonstrate the commercial viability of WSE’s large-scale wave-power technology.

The Soto team’s renowned ingenuity is helping drive the manufacture, fabrication, and assembly of the turbine unit. We have produced a set of detailed manufacturing drawings for the tender and procurement of the turbine’s assembly components and ancillary structures. The turbine generator itself has been designed by Mechanical Solutions Inc (MSI), an American firm that specialises in the design of rotating equipment, including turbines. We especially treasure such opportunities to form new relationships with engineering firms around the world, as we believe this process propels engineering culture forward – a principle and aspiration that is distilled into our Everything Engineered philosophy. 

Seeing the clear engineering value that all parties are obtaining from this collaboration, Soto has further offered its expertise in managing the tender and procurement as well as the manufacture of the turbine and factory testing. The Soto team has the outstanding proficiency to help ensure that the equipment is manufactured to the exact requirements of the project. When it comes to excellence, we leave no stone unturned.  

Soto’s penchant for forming mutually rewarding relationships has prompted the project team to ask us to undertake a thorough engineering assessment of the initial safety designs. The Soto team will make recommendations on any improvements in the design of the shut-off door mechanism for ocean water that is the central safety feature. We will suggest these improvements with an eye on smoother construction and easier maintenance, and this will be another opportunity to deploy the inventiveness that we take great pride in nurturing at Soto. We will engineer and manufacture this key component of the system to withstand the tough environmental conditions and high loads it will encounter during operation.The Project Manager, Tom Wilson, vocally appreciates the Soto team’s openness, high standards and attention to detail, as well as the promptness with which we have executed the project work. At Soto, we are unabashedly proud of our close relationship with WSE, having winningly shown our passion for Everything Engineered while collaborating on this high-profile wave-power development.