Malta puts floating storage for offshore renewables on trials

A start-up from the University of Malta has deployed a scaled prototype of an offshore floating platform with integrated energy storage for trials in the Maltese Grand Harbour.

The technology, dubbed the Floating Liquid-piston Accumulator using Seawater under Compression (FLASC), uses pressurized seawater and compressed air to store energy from offshore renewable resources.

It is best suited for floating systems since it integrates directly into the platform itself, according to the researchers from the University of Malta.

The first scaled FLASC prototype was deployed in the fourth quarter of 2017 in the Grand Harbour of the Maltese Islands.

FLASC being transported to deployment site (Photo: University of Malta)

The prototype comprises a small-scale tension leg platform (TLP) with a gravity anchor. It uses solar PV as a source of electrical energy to charge the system, which is then discharged in a controlled manner, while key performance data are transmitted in real-time to an onshore station.

The prototype also served as a proof-of-concept for a novel method for TLP deployment, said to be faster and safer than existing alternatives by FLASC research team.

Potential applications for the technology include floating wind, solar PV, wave and tidal energy systems, along with liquefaction of natural gas, water injection in oil wells and water desalination.

The scaled trials have been funded by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), with technical and logistical support from an oil & gas logistics company Medserv.

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