Company Profile, history of the project 16.09.2018

Michele Grassi (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter), born in 1970, has a degree in Mathematics from Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and a PhD in Mathematics from the University of California Los Angeles. He also studied for some time in Oxford, UK. In 2005 he had an idea for an innovative method for extracting energy from waves.

After the initial preliminary studies, in 2008 he created 40South Energy Ltd in London to complete development of the Intellectual Property, to fabricate and to commercialise the machines globally. The Italian subsidiary 40South Energy Srl carries out some development and construction, mainly related to the mechanical components. The UK company has recently expanded its presence, opening an office in Plymouth. 40South Energy has a special relationship with Plymouth University and collaborators from Exeter University. From the Plymouth office it will be easier to coordinate the various projects planned for the South West of the UK, among which the Scilly Airport WEP.

The machines that we build constitute a generation jump with respect to the previous ones, in terms of survivability, reliability, load factor and cost.

In 2010 the Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena provided a loan to finance the construction of the first full scale pre-commercial prototype of a 150kW machine. In the summer of 2010 Zurich agreed to insure our machines (for damages against third parties), due to the intrinsic multi-layered security measures (both active and passive) incorporated already in the D100t prototype deployed and tested offshore during that summer.

During 2011 we tested offshore the second generation of full scale machine, the 150kW unit called Y25t. Its operation allowed us to validate completely the computerised “wave to wire” model that we use to forecast the behaviour of machines at sea.

During 2012 we sold the first R115/150kW machine to Enel Green Power, one of the major renewables players in the world.

During 2013 we completed construction and had first electricity production offshore from the first R115 machine and we also received orders for R115 machines from other clients. We started expanding the projects from the current ones in the UK and in Italy to several other locations around the world, where we have customers interested in developing Wave Energy Parks based on our R115 machines.
From a technological point of view we started development of an intermediate prototype, called R380/500kW, useful towards  the design of the next generation machine, also using to finance part of this project a grant to 40South Energy Srl from Regione Toscana. The R380/500kW will serve as the basis platform for the R1300/2MW machine, our second commercial offering which we expect to launch commercially during 2015.

During the first quarter of 2014 we completed the test campaign on the first R115 machine.

In the second quarter of 2014 we started development of our WT25 powertrain, which is used in the R115/200kW, in the R380/500kW and in the first machine in the new line of H-machines, the H24. The H design is as groundbreaking as the R one, and allows us to expand in a new market segment (shallow water wave and tidal conversion) completely separate from that of the offshore wave machines of type R. The fact that these machines share the powertrain is an added bonus which improves dramatically out production process.

Together with our partners of Elements Works SRL we completed the consenting process for a first H-WEP (H-machine water energy park), where we installed one H24-50 machines. The machine was installed at the Marina di Pisa wave energy park in November 2016, and after a month of commissioning was put into operation. Electricity from wave energy was produced but was NOT put into the Italian grid (it was dissipated as heat locally).

In November 2016 we sold the first H24-50 to Enel Green Power, and later in December 2016 Enel Green Power invested in 40South Energy Italia, alongside Invitalia Ventures.

During 2017 40South Energy Italia worked at the update of the design of the H24-50, to bring it from TRL 7 to TRL8. In the meantime another investment was done, by Genia Srl and Invitalia Ventures.

In the summer of 2018 a first update of the H24-50 installed off Marina di Pisa was completed, from version 1.0 to 1.1, to start testing the “version 2” transmission which will be used in the TRL8 H24-50 v2. This time the electricity produced was injected in the Italian Grid, starting from the first production event on Thursday September 13th, 2018. This date is a fundamental milestone, as it was the first grid production of wave energy in the Italian grid (and most likely the first or one of the very few in the whole continental Europe).


Background image: London Eye. Photo by Michele Grassi