We decided to proceed in “stealth mode”, with a small but very focussed team, outsorcing most (but not all) fabrication to external firms with which we established a very tight relationship, so that we could monitor and intervene in all phases of construction. This setup allowed us to complete a number of milestones in a very short period of time, without ANY significant public grants for the whole initial period (either from the UK Government, the EU or any other public body), while being in contact with the Wave Energy group at DNV since the summer of 2008:
1) We have had “steel in the water” from the fall of 2008, implementing a very steep learning curve with a succession of ever bigger and more sophisticated prototypes. We tested offshore a second generation of full scale machines during 2011. On December 17th, 2013 we produced first electricity offshore (at our Punta Righini test site) with R115-2012001, the first unit of our R115 commercial lineup. You can find more details on two of our Facebook pages,
2) We have been working with designers and manufacturers with long experience in precision engineering and in the offshore Oil & Gas industry, thus avoiding (most of) the common mistakes and arriving quickly to working solutions
3) To reach these milestones in such a short time we did not look at the preexisting solutions, developing our own solutions which in most cases turned out to be original and improving on the state of the art, and thus patentable.
Regione Toscana awarded to 40South Energy Srl a grant at the end of 2012, used for the development of a first intermediate prototype (the R380/500kW) towards the next generation machine. The grant in particular contributed to the development of the WT25 powertrain used in the R380.
In the meantime during mid-2014 our founder invented and patented a new type of converter, capable of extracting energy from both waves and tides at the same time. This invention already produced a line of machines, which we call H-type. The H24-50kW went into the water in the November of 2015. The H24 shares the powertrains with the R115, and this is the reason why we could go so quickly from invention to commercial scale steel in the water. With the H24 we plan to reach cash flow breakeven much sooner than initially planned.
We are testing the market for interest in the H machines, and from first feedback it seems that this line of products could be very successful. The R and H machines occupy completely different segments of the market.