INTERVIEW - WERPO draws ambitious wave energy plans for Africa, world

The wave energy device. Source: WERPO. License: All Rights Reserved.

(SeeNews) - Nov 3, 2014 - Israeli firm Wave Electricity Renewable Power Ocean (WERPO), which recently unveiled a 100-MW wave energy project in Kenya, plans in the near future to deploy its technology also in countries such as Guinea and Gambia.

WERPO says it is currently present in nine markets, including China, Kenya and Sri Lanka. “We plan to build in the next two years 10-MW plants in all the counties we are active and in the next four years 100-MW plants so we can return the investment for the shareholders in the next four years,” Shmuel Ovadia, inventor of the technology used by WERPO, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The company holds the intellectual property, technology, know-how and contracts previously associated with Israel-based sea wave power firm SDE Ltd. WERPO was formed recently to implement a reverse merger with Blackbird International Corp and gain a listing on the US over-the-counter (OTC) market in order to seek funding for various projects around the world.

Now that the combination is completed, the company’s market capitalisation amounts to USD 40 million (EUR 32m).

WERPO’s Kenyan endeavour

In early October, Blackbird announced that WERPO had received the green light from the Ministry of Energy in Kenya to install a 100-MW wave energy plant on the coastline of the African country. The project will be executed through a 70/30 joint venture with local firm Sea Wave Gen.

Ovadia told SeeNews Renewables that WERPO would invest some USD 80 million to build that plant. The first phase of the project will have a capacity of 10 MW and is seen to bring gross income of USD 10 million, Blackbird estimates. The output of the entire plant will be sold to local power firm KPLC at USD 0.08 per kWh.

Expanding its horizons

WERPO’s expansion plans at present involve small west African countries such as Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia, in addition to China. There is interest from ports in Italy, as well. It says it has more than USD 2 billion worth of orders.

The company has already signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) for an initial 100-MW wave energy project in Guinea-Bissau that may later be expanded to 500 MW. In Conakry, the capital city of Guinea, WERPO intends to install 100 MW under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government.

In China, WERPO will install a second, 150-kW wave energy system on Hainan Island. It has also secured a USD-1.2-million deal to build two more Chinese plants of 500-kW each.

Less than two weeks ago, Blackbird unveiled there was an official request for WERPO’s technology in Sri Lanka. The plan is to begin building a 10-MW wave energy station in the city of Matara and then seek approvals for a further 20 plants with the same capacity.

Cheaper green technology

The cost of constructing a 1-MW plant, using the hydro-pneumatic technology Ovadia has invented, amounts to some USD 650,000. The technology can achieve a power generation cost as low as USD 0.02 per kW, WERPO says, compared to USD 0.03/kWh for coal, USD 0.12 for solar and USD 0.036 for wind. This type of wave energy generators can produce electricity about 65% of the time they operate.

WERPO representative Israel Enden pointed out that in Africa the company’s technology could not only boost local power capacity but also solve water availability problems. “If there is enough energy in Africa there would be enough drinkable water as well, you just need the electricity in order to build water purification plants,” he explained.

Enden also noted that 80% of the world’s population is located in coastal areas so wave energy can help solve the energy shortage crisis in many locations.  

(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.800)

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Ivan is the mergers and acquisitions expert in Renewables Now with a passion for big deals and ambitious capacity plans.

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