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InnovFin: First EIB financing under the InnovFin Energy Demonstration Project programme to support the development of commercial “WaveRoller” wave energy technology

In its commitment to support innovative technologies, the European Investment Bank (EIB) will invest up to EUR 10 million in AW-Energy, a pioneering start-up company from Finland which developed “WaveRoller” wave energy technology. The investment will support and speed up the commercial roll-out of European wave energy technology. This is the first project to be supported by the InnovFin Energy Demonstration Project (EDP) programme.

EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, EIB Vice-President Jan Vapaavuori and CEO of AW-Energy John Liljelund signed the EUR 10 million agreement, which will foster a new and clean energy technology, in Brussels today.

EIB Vice-President Jan Vapaavuori said: “I think it would be hard to underestimate the importance of this type of pilot project that can open up untapped sources of clean energy. One of the goals of InnovFin is to support new technologies and the EIB is glad it can support this project through this instrument. The symbolic importance of a highly innovative Finnish company putting a project in place in Portugal makes this a truly European initiative.”

EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, added: “An investment in renewable energy technologies is an investment in Europe's leadership of these new industries. We want to support renewable energy pioneers to contribute solutions to global climate change challenges, while generating employment and sustainable economic growth at home in Europe."

AW-Energy’s CEO, John Liljelund, said: “This is a significant milestone not only for WaveRoller and the wave energy sector, but for the ocean energy industry as a whole, which is currently on the brink of a commercial breakthrough. As a constant and far more predictable form of renewable energy than wind and solar, wave energy will be a highly valuable addition to the global renewable energy mix. Bankable technology is the cornerstone when building a new industry. Having prestigious institutions like the EIB on board adds plenty of credibility to the equation.”

AW-Energy has developed a near-shore underwater device that converts wave energy into electrical power. In 2012, the company installed three 100kW demonstration units connected to the grid near Peniche, in Portugal. The strong support of the local community and municipality was essential for the project. Its progressive approach has placed Peniche on the world map as one of the most interesting wave energy hubs, attracting many wave energy developers.

The support of the EIB will help to keep the company firmly on the track of commercialisation of the WaveRoller®. AW-Energy is about to install a full-scale 350kW device in the same area of Portugal. The company has identified commercial leads in six countries and has the potential objective of selling more than 50 units in the four coming years. The project will also be financed by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

The Wave Energy Device project has the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020. InnovFin is a range of EIB Group products designed to facilitate access to finance for innovative businesses.

Background information:

InnovFin Energy Demonstration Projects provides loans, loan guarantees or equity-type investments of between EUR 7.5m and EUR 75m for innovative first-of-a-kind commercial-scale demonstration projects in the fields of renewable energy and hydrogen fuel cells, helping them to bridge the gap between demonstration and commercialisation.

AW-Energy is a pioneer in the green economy and is the global leader in wave energy technology. Its flagship product, WaveRoller, is a submerged wave energy converter based on a hinged panel that is attached to the sea bed in the near-shore area. It generates electricity from the movement of the waves (surge phenomenon) and is connected to the electricity grid onshore. The company is based in Finland and operates in multiple continents. It is backed by strong owners including Fortum, a leading European utility company.

Wave energy represents the largest untapped clean renewable energy resource, with a global potential greater than the capacity of all the installed fossil fuel plants in Europe combined. AW-Energy is the predominant global near-shore wave energy developer with ongoing projects on many continents. Its flagship product, WaveRoller, is a submerged wave energy converter that creates clean electricity from the ocean waves.

The company has successfully demonstrated the WaveRoller technology with a three-unit demonstration installation in Portugal, utilizing a fully commercial grid-connection license and providing power for the local population already in 2012. AW-Energy also runs a world-unique test centre in Finland, which enables testing and fine-tuning of full-scale power take-off units in factory conditions.

AW-Energy cooperates with strong industrial partners including certification by DNV_GL and has a thorough technology certification programme running under the review of Lloyd’s Register, aiming for full certification.  The company employs a highly professional and efficient team that manages a network of over 100 engineers and technical staff.