Electricity from the sea: Wave For Energy's innovative technology installed by Eni off the coast of Pantelleria


The ISWEC device, developed by Eni in collaboration with Wave For Energy and Politecnico di Torino, produces renewable energy from sea waves.

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The Eni group announced that it has completed the installation of the world's first ISWEC (Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter) device connected to the electricity grid of an island - it is located about 800 metres off the coast of the Italian island of Pantelleria - and able to reach 260 kilowatts of peak power generation converted from wave energy. The device was developed by Eni in collaboration with Politecnico di Torino and Wave For Energy, spin-off of the Polytechnic University of Turin and former start-up which completed its incubation path in I3P.

A solution for renewable energy

ISWEC is an innovative technology in the field of offshore renewable energy solutions, converting wave motion into electricity which then supplies energy to offshore infrastructure, small off-grid islands and coastal communities. ISWEC design can be optimized with reference to the metocean conditions of the site where it is installed by means of a genetic algorithm that leverages on the significant computing power of Eni’s Green Data Centre (GDC) based in Ferrera Erbognone. This experimental campaign, conducted under real operating conditions, will lead to useful results for developing second-generation devices, currently under study.

The machine consists of a steel hull which houses the energy conversion system, consisting of two gyroscopic units, each more than 2 meters in diameter. The device is held in place in a 35 meter deep seabed by a special mooring system that responds to weather and sea conditions, consisting of three mooring lines and a swivel (a rotating joint). The electricity produced is transmitted ashore via an underwater electric cable.  

The advantages of this technology

Wave power is one of the main types of renewable energy and is currently untapped. Suffice it to consider that 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water (97% of which is made up of seas and oceans). The power that could be generated from sea waves is estimated at around 2 terawatts globally, for a total of 18,000 terawatt-hours a year, almost the same as the entire planet’s demand for electricity. Energy from sea waves is also more predictable, constant and of higher energy density than that of the sun and wind, as it is available both during the day and at night.

A further advantage of this technology is the considerable reduction of its impact on the landscape, since the device stands only one meter above sea water. Moreover, ISWEC can be integrated perfectly with other offshore renewable energy production systems, such as wind power generators, both because it enhances the value of connection systems and because it can be integrated with other facilities in the same sea area, thereby maximising the conversion of available energy.  

The ISWEC technology is part of Eni’s decarbonization plan and was mentioned by the EU Commission in its strategy on offshore renewable energy as a key example of sea wave energy conversion. The installation of the ISWEC in Pantelleria is the first step towards the decarbonization of the island, in line with the energy transition agenda.