Winter is coming round, and it comes with a heavy heart the Penguin’s towing has come to a stop and is now rescheduled for early spring 2021. The decision to stop the tow of Wello’s Penguin comes on the 5th of November after three weeks of towing to Armintza from Orkney.
The tow, which is being carried out by Saipem, was originally scheduled to begin early summer when weather windows were more favorable. With calmer waves this period of the year was ideal for towing the 44-meter device. Though, as the year progressed so did the unfortunate situation that we were all facing. To tackle the covid-19 pandemic work was moved remotely, travel was halted, and industries were shook. Wello and Saipem are both committed to keeping their partners and employees safe during this period and so, the pandemic led to the initial delay of the Penguin to late summer/early fall. During this Wello and Saipem faced issues trying to get the device out of the UK. Having been tied down by the pandemic, in a last-ditch effort to get the device towed before the winter season Saipem chartered a tugboat to begin the tow. The device got as far as Falmouth, south England before it was deemed by the tugboat’s captain, in consultation with Saipem experienced engineers, and after the review of several weather forecasts, that the weather window was not long enough to tow it across the English Channel and Bay of Biscay to Bilbao. And so, the Penguin will remain in Falmouth until for coming months. Now both Wello and Saipem are working together to make sure that the next tow and commissioning move along as smoothly as possible and to get the wave energy converter deployed at the earliest opportunity.
For the past year Wello has been consumed with the deployment and commissioning of the device and now with this short delay there is a chance for us shift our focus for a moment. We are now allocating more time and resources to working on other projects and technology development. Wello is already planning a full round of tank testing for the next iteration of the Penguin. Saipem and ENEL Green Power have already expressed their desire to join Wello in this process providing keen insight and support during this process. Saipem especially with regards to the manufacturing process of the Penguins hull and moorings. We have already started optimizing the hull design and tweaked the design and looking forward to sharing the results with the world.
All parties involved were hoping to get the Penguin in Basque water in time for Winter. This news, however, does not stop us, and we are still going to continue moving forward. As has been seen in the past few decades, wave energy is a challenging business, countless other developers have crumbled while Wello has managed to remain to keep going. The ocean possesses such huge amount of energy to be captured and we have yet to capture even the tiniest fraction of its potential. Wello is one of the only developers to have a full-scale device and to have that device deployed in real ocean conditions, proving both survivability and design. The Penguin set for the Basque shores shall continue this path and provide more proof of the commercial readiness of the Penguin.