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Vi Maris Award – 2021

Vi Maris - The OEE Industry Award

The OEE industry award Vi Maris (Force of the sea) recognises excellence in the ocean energy industry. The industry award acknowledges individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the ocean energy sector.

The award winner is selected by a subcommittee of the Ocean Energy Europe board, who have extensive experience of the sector and who are not affiliated to a particular company. 

This year’s award will be presented during the OEE2021 event.  

The 2021 award nominees are:

  • Olatz Ajuria, Ente Vasco de la Energia
  • Patricia Comiskey, SEAI
  • Martin Edlund, Minesto
  • Jochen Weilepp, University of Applied Sciences Biberach

Olatz Ajuria, Ente Vasco de la Energia

Olatz has been a consistent advocate for ocean energy activity in the Basque Country for the past 15 years, during which time the Basque Country has become one of the foremost ocean energy hotspots in Europe. A project manager for the Basque Energy Agency (EVE), Olatz holds a chemical engineering degree and an MA in Project Management which she has put to good use in her 15 years at the Agency.

The Basque Country now boasts the world’s most performant wave power plant – Mutriku – which has also become a testing centre of excellence, in parallel with the nearby BiMEP site. Support and annual grants from EVE have facilitated projects such as the landmark Horizon 2020 ‘Opera Project’ and the recent deployment of Wello’s Penguin 2 device. Olatz is now driving forward the €22.5m ‘EuropeWave’ project on behalf of EVE, which will identify and develop the next generation of wave energy devices.

Patricia Comiskey, SEAI

Trained as a marine biologist, Patricia began her career working at the Irish Sea fisheries Board, Bord Iascaigh Mhara. Growing up by the coast, she’s always been drawn to the sea.

Patricia joined the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) 12 years ago, working as a programme manager for ocean energy. She has been a consistent and vocal champion of ocean energy technologies, supporting research and development activities, and engaging with a cross-section of stakeholders. Alongside providing public support for ocean energy, a priority has always been strengthening cooperation and coordination within the sector. She has achieved this via the EU SET Plan process and OceanSET project, fostering cooperation between national funders in Europe; and via the Interreg Ocean Power Innovation Network (OPIN) which encourages cooperation between sectors and regions.

Patricia’s support of the industry in Ireland has focussed on not only its energy production potential, but the way in which sustainable energy sources can help propel Ireland to a better tomorrow: bringing jobs back to coastal towns, reducing dependency on imports and truly turning Ireland into the green isle.

Martin Edlund, Minesto

Martin has been working in the marine renewable energy sector for the last decade and holds a PhD in Innovation Management. For most of his career, his focus has been on turning cutting-edge technology into business. With vast experience in companies such as GE, ABB, LMEricsson and SKF, Martin is the CEO of Minesto, a leading tidal energy developer with operations in Sweden, UK, Taiwan and the Faroe Islands. Minesto’s unique tidal kite technology ‘Deep Green’ takes a novel approach to tidal energy generation and opens up possibilities for low velocity current areas.

Martin has relentlessly driven forward tidal kite technology across several countries, attracting significant private investment, industry partnerships and media attention in the process. Minesto deployments have taken place in Northern Ireland, Wales and the Faroe Islands, with a deployment in France due shortly. Two kites have been injecting power into the Faroe Islands’ grid since late 2020, and a new power generation record was reached in summer 2021.

Jochen Weilepp, University of Applied Sciences Biberach

Jochen is a professor for Energy Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Biberach, Germany, and holds a PhD in Physics and an MBA (INSEAD). A long-time supporter and champion of ocean energy, Jochen has held several advisory and executive positions in the sector. He was Ocean Energy Europe’s Co-President from 2019 – 2021 and a Board member from 2010 – 2019. He has been the Non-Executive Director at Sustainable Marine and was previously a member of the advisory board at Schottel Hydro.

Jochen has been closely involved in a number of ocean energy ‘firsts’ across both wave & tidal. He delivered the technology for the Mutriku Power Plant. Mutriku is the world’s first commercial breakwater wave energy plant and recently celebrated its 10th year of continuous operation. More recently he has worked with Schottel Hydro and Sustainable Marine, who are deploying the world’s first floating tidal array – the 9MW Pempa’q project in Canada.