Variohm Eurosensor provides angle sensors for commercial wave power plant

Variohm Eurosensor

Novotechnik RFC4800 series angle sensors

Variohm Eurosensor supplied Voith Hydro Wavegen — an Inverness-based renewable wave power specialist — with Novotechnik RFC4800 series ’touchless technology’ non-contact angle sensors, for use within the world’s first commercial wave power plant.

The 300kW plant is located in Mutriku in the north of Spain and is based on Wavegen’s Nearshore Oscillating Water Column (OWC) technology, which uses the sensors supplied by Variohm Eurosensor.

Wavegen’s OWC was commissioned by the Basque Energy Board for use within the structure, which features 16 integrated Wells turbines located above a large chamber that has an opening under the water. As the ocean rises and falls so does the water level within the chamber. As the water rises it compresses the air in the chamber and forces it through the turbine generator, and when it falls air is pulled back through the turbine and into the chamber. No matter which way the air flows the turbine is always driven in the same direction.

The RFC4800 angle sensor provides position feedback for a butterfly damper, which is located between the chamber and turbine and isolates the turbine for shut-down purposes — as well as throttling the airflow during extreme sea states.

The sensor uses a magnetic position sensor — fixed to the turbine frame, with a corresponding magnetic position marker located on the end of the actuator shaft — which interacts with its electronics and provides an analogue output that is proportional to angle position.

Key benefits of product application

  • No bearings that can wear
  • Each element is IP69 sealed, enabling high reliability and a long life
  • The magnet and sensor elements are easily installed
  • Analogue output is absolute
  • No need to recalibrate valve position after a power shut-down
  • Sensor is suitable for use in extreme environments
  • Resilient to shock and vibration


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