Meet Our Founder

Aslihan Penley

Aslihan Penley

Aslihan, an award winning business woman has a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering, from Middle East Technical University (METU), in Ankara, Turkey.  She is the winner of AccelerateHER, in Clean-Tech and Climate Category, Winner of Scottish Enterprise’s Unlocking Ambition Award and Finalist in Young Professionals Green Energy Award. Aslihan moved to Scotland 20 years ago, then worked for Oil & Gas expat positions in Asia Pacific and Gulf of Mexico as the Safety Lead.

During her Oil & Gas years, Aslihan was involved in complex subsea installation operations working at FTSE500 companies such as Subsea7, Technip, Aker Solutions and Worley. She’s a great example of Energy Transition, when she took all her experience from Oil and Gas and retrained to became Renewable Energy expert by Napier University.

Aslihan’s experience with wave energy started with an Israeli company in 2015. This was a breakwater-mounted wave energy converter (WEC) claiming to reduce from construction costs. To find appropriate breakwaters in Scotland, Aslihan conducted a study with University of Highland and Islands and realised that is impossible to find breakwaters that has Hs>2m annual average wave height required for this technology to generate meaningful energy. After that R&D study, Aslihan understood that if she can develop a concept which works with small sea-states (Hs<2m), the world is her oyster. It was very timely when she came across with Umbra Group’s Power take off (PTO) system in Wave Energy Scotland Annual conference, which showed potential to generate at wave heights as low as Hs>35cm. To adapt this in her concept, she pulled together SE:SMART Scotland Grant funding and the top-class wave energy engineers in Edinburgh Uni. During this study, she not only designed a WEC that works at small sea-states but also overcame the mechanical-end-stop problem, which is a fatal problem almost all WEC designs suffer from.

The next big problem to overcome was to find the right market for this technology. Obviously wave energy, being the holy grail when price drops to a level that can compete with Offshore Wind, would have massive market potential but, Aslihan didn’t want to do the mistake other wave energy developers did. To reduce the cost, she knew she needed economies of scale and to get the volume sales, she needed a market that ZOEX cost made sense now, from a prototype level. Aslihan, winning Unlocking Ambition funds, deployed a set of professionals to carry out a product-market fit and aquaculture was found to be the penetration market making commercial sense. Aquaculture sector had a well-matched power requirement, suitable resource, low balance of plant, sustainability targets, strong growth trajectories and customer demand. Due to land constraints and declining fish stocks aquaculture fish farming is likely to be the leading source of protein for human consumption in the future. There is a strong growth in this market. From 1990 to 2018, there was a 527% rise in global aquaculture production, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), while production from wild-capture fisheries increased by just 14% over the same period.

Most people describe Aslihan as influential and passionate; she has single handily, overcome the design problem in the Wave Energy converter, raised funding, found the right Engineering House as a development partner, secured support from Scottish Enterprise and gained trust of her first customers, two major players in the Aquaculture sector.

Aslihan is a champion for diversity as a woman in a man-dominated energy sector. There is no other woman inventor in wave and tidal energy sector. She represents equality as a Turkish immigrant nationalised British where she also volunteers as a Turkish Talent Ambassador. Having won Unlocking Ambition and AccelerateHER awards, she attended many entrepreneurial workshops and certification programs including one from Babson College, Boston, the top Entrepreneurial College in the World.

During her journey, her two children, Zoe and Alex has been her biggest supporter. The concept name, ZOEX, comes from Zoe and Alex’s names. Zoe means life in Greek, it is Aslihan’s dream to install her system on a remote island to provide clean energy from waves, connect it to a desalination unit and also provide clean water. These are two fundamentals for livelihood of humanity! Robustness is so critical in any WEC design, ZOEX integrates a double link arm mechanism which protects the device at harsh storm conditions by lifting the arm up or submerging in the water. Alex’s name represents ‘defender of humankind’. So, the two names were mixed up and ZOEX was born as a concept… As any Entrepreneur, Aslihan says in her low days when she wanted to give up, her children kept her going; knowing the seriousness of climate change from her SCUBA diving experience, as a mother of two, she had to be relentless and do anything to accelerate the world towards a low carbon future. She wants to inspire all mothers, that if we all pick a fight, we can make a difference to leave a better future for our children… Her motto is ‘ If I can do it, you can do it’

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Our team aims to make ZOEX a global force for good. Our strategic partners offer specific expertise and will support our in-house team to capture learnings and protect IP rights.

Join us on our journey to unlock the greatest untapped energy source on the planet and yield exceptional returns with ZOEX.