The Most Advanced Maritime Breakwater in the world




This Social Innovation Project offers a practical response to the problem of combining energy demand and urban environmental policy planning. It promotes the development of a WEC (Wave Energy Converter), an innovative technology able to convert energy from the wave sea motion into useful energy such as electricity.



The International Scientific Community has outlined some key points on which a screening activity of wave energy technologies has to be based, which can be summarized as follows:

  • develop reliable technologies;
  • keeping the costs low;
  • promote eco-compatible systems.

The main aim of this Social Innovation Project is to contribute to the development of an innovative technology able to exploits potential energy in waves, generating “clean” electricity at very low cost.



DIMEMO’s objective is to constitute a hydraulic head. This is well known in hydraulics for the numerous applications in the field of energy production. In this case, the goal is achieved by exploiting the sea wave motion.  The device consists of a rubble mound breakwater with a frontal reservoir designed to capture the wave overtopping from a sloping ramp in order to convert wave energy into potential energy. Water stored in the reservoir produces energy by flowing through low head hydraulic turbines, using the difference in water level between the reservoir and the main sea water level.


The pilot plant has been developed during the National Operational Programme for Research and Competitiveness 2007–2013 (NOP for R&C) founded project PON04a3_00303 titled “DIMEMO-DIga Marittima per l’Energia del Moto Ondoso” (Maritime Breakwater forWave Energy Conversion). Authors gratefully acknowledge the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) for supporting this innovative research.

The project specifically looks at the subject of “smart cities”, taking a dual strategic role both from the renewable energy point of view and from the coastal and maritime constructions and their environmental inclusion in the city planning. The technology represents a real innovation in the wave energy field. The device isn’t a stand-alone wave energy converter that can be economical competitive only with economic incentives, which deregulate the energy production market. The DIMEMO is a technology entirely integrated into the coastal structures, with the same well-defined traditional function: the protection of the harbor from the wave attacks.




Two main aspects should be taken into account as for the economic benefits of this technology.  First, the scientific research can be transformed, in the short/medium term, into industrial innovation and commercial technology, attracting international investors in this sector. Given that Italy is largely surrounded by water (7456 Km of coastline), its future energy demand could be supported by the energy source based on the sea. Moreover, the Italian electricity sector is traditionally based on the consumption of oil and natural gas and it still depends on foreign suppliers, requiring large imports of electricity from neighboring countries (France, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia).



The exploitation of renewable sources in the heart of the city with low costs is the new approach to perceiving the world as a network of small villages.  For the small island communities that obtain energy from expensive diesel generators, the application of innovative WECs integrated into breakwaters is certainly the most reasonable (between the renewable energy technology) in order to substitute the energetic resource.

In order to obtain a controlled output of energy, it can be chosen to produce, when necessary, electrical or hydrogenous current, to use for the same electrical production during the periods of calm sea or to produce drinking water by osmotic treatment.

The production of drinking water has very important ethical aspects, mostly if it is applied in some coastal region of African or Asian countries, where the full access of the services of drinking water is still partially compromised.

In specific terms, the port infrastructures connected with the onshore oil and gas installations can be integrated with the DIMEMO device as environmental mitigation and compensation interventions.


Ministero Sviluppo Economico
Unione Europera