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Verlume: sustainable power for the blue economy

Verlume is a leader in subsea energy solutions. It's also a prominent figure in the UK’s ‘blue economy’, an emerging sector focused on using ocean resources sustainably. Paul Slorach, Chief Technology Officer at Verlume, discusses the company's vision and how we've helped along the way.

Verlume employee working on subsea engineering equipment.
Paul Slorach, Verlume CTO, working on subsea engineering equipment.

12 Oct 2021 | 5 minute read

A sea change in marine energy

Powering subsea operations using traditional methods is damaging our environment. It's also expensive and potentially dangerous. This is partly due to a reliance on umbilical cables acting as lifelines, supplying power via another vessel on the surface. By using battery power, we’ve cut the cord.

Our Halo technology is essentially a battery with a big brain. It powers underwater control systems, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) in a way that is 92% more sustainable than traditional methods.

This means Halo provides subsea power at a fraction of the financial and environmental cost of carbon energy in deep sea applications across the globe.

How Scottish Enterprise helped us grow

Since we founded Verlume (previously named EC-OG) in 2013, the Scottish Enterprise inward investment and research teams have worked closely with us to aid the development of our technologies, investing more than £2.5 million in funding and grants.

The support has been pivotal in allowing us to progress prototypes and technologies faster. The organisation's expertise has also helped connect us with global markets and the right contacts.

Here's my advice to people thinking of applying for funding:

  • Have a clear business plan and a well-defined scope of what's needed
  • Demonstrate the need for your product, or service, and how ready it is for commercial deployment
  • Show how your product or service fits within the relevant topics in your chosen industry
  • Prove you have a good understanding of the challenges of getting it to market
  • Above all, it’s important to keep an open mind throughout the process
The Verlume Team working on subsea engineering equipment and innovation.

Leaders in sustainable marine engineering

Remaining receptive to developments in battery technology and the ever-evolving energy industry is crucial for the ongoing success of the business. We encourage our teams to seek out the latest innovations through industry projects as well as working with researchers and universities throughout Scotland and across the world.

In terms of Scottish engineering talent, there’s clearly something in the water. This is especially true in the north-east of Scotland where decades of hydrocarbon exploration have produced a highly skilled engineering workforce with true global expertise in marine and underwater environments.

A green business model

It’s not just about the green – or blue – credentials of our products.

We make sure that sustainability is the lifeblood of the everyday activities of the business, from supporting local supply chain and reducing our carbon footprint, to basing manufacturing in Aberdeen and shirking conventional practices.

Even the Covid-19 pandemic provided opportunity, as we adopted a video conferencing policy for international clients, allowing for more engagement with customers and less impact on the planet. It should be on every company’s agenda to make small changes for the greater good.

Across all sectors of Scottish business, I think this is an important time to find a way of improving operations so that emissions are reduced. This could lead to cost savings too. I think it’s also important to communicate with staff regarding the energy transition situation, since it’s something that will affect every part of society.

Diving deeper into decarbonisation

Is the subsea industry in line to reach net zero targets? In a word, yes. 

Since the 2015 Paris agreement, there's been a significant increase in the conversation around emissions reduction and the use of renewables.

Our aim is to be a lighthouse for the industry, directing companies away from carbon towards cleaner energy solutions.

Paul Slorach, Verlume's CTO working on subsea engineering technology.

Wind energy applications

The future is looking breezy as our team works with the offshore wind market to develop an intelligent wind energy storage (IWES) system that manages and stores energy in new ways, negating the need for diesel generators in offshore wind platforms.

The technology is also being developed for grid services and research is underway to understand its implications for Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), hydrogen and defence applications.

Ambitious plans to expand

The UK is at the forefront of the energy transition and international customers are looking to us for solutions. We have already worked with clients across Europe, the US and Japan. Over the next five years we have ambitious targets to expand further in key markets internationally.

Our aim at Verlume is to continue to lead Scottish innovation and talent in a future-proof energy transition. With COP26 deepening the conversation, we predict that battery technology will play a key role in the the marine energy sector, powering Scotland’s blue economy and furthering decarbonisation progress across the globe.

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