Wave Energy Converter: The Heart of Wave Energy Generation

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wave energy

Introduction :

The waters of the world’s oceans are almost constantly in motion and not ever disturbed waves break off the coastlines, sometimes strong and sometimes weaker. There is an immense wave energy potential available around the clock and free of charge. A potential that has fully exploited could satisfy 40% of the worldwide demand for power. This is equivalent to the output of between 700 to 800 nuclear power stations. There’s a tremendous amount of power in an ocean wave if we could just harness the energy in those heating waves through wave energy converter. The movement of waves could help us to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel.

Wind and solar power technologies are already well-established and increasingly used around the world but they can’t generate electricity all the time. Water is 800 times denser than air. So, more energy than wind per volume can be carried by waves. A meter wide section of the wave can provide 40 kilowatts that’s enough energy to power about 20 homes. If you extend that over a kilometre now we could harness 40 megawatts and if you extend that over 25 kilometres of coastline, now we could harness at around a gigawatt of capacity which is a typical hydroelectric plant.

But with such great potential how come this resource is still untapped. There is going to be a need to bring in renewable technologies to fill some of our energy demands. They’re all going to need to work in some kind of harmony to really have an impact. The only way you’re going to get up to a scale on renewables where you can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to a level that will really have an impact.

The Future of Wave Power

Wave energy is seen to be the planet’s greatest untapped source of renewable energy. ENEA and RSE have estimated that if it could be completely harnessed, we could receive 2 TeraWatts of energy, about 18 trillion kilowatt-hours per year which is almost equal to the world’s annual demand for electricity. In addition, wave energy is more predictable, regulated and constant than other renewable sources. While the wave power available worldwide would in itself be adequate to meet the planet’s electricity needs, successful attempts to harness ocean wave energy have remained elusive. Research is underway on better designs so that it is available with reduced capital investment cost. Wave also has the potential to become one of the lowest-cost forms of electricity generation, with the cost of opening up now around half that of wind energy and a quarter that of solar PV.

Interesting Facts :
  1. 2.1 TW is the average power wave on its own that can supply around the globe approximately equal to the global demand for electricity.
  2. Within 60 km of the sea, 50% of the world’s population lives – closely matching supply with demand.
  3. About $8 trillion is expected to be invested in renewable energy over the next 25 years.
  4. It is estimated that the possible annual energy potential of waves off the U.S. coast is as much as 2.64 trillion kilowatt-hours or around 64% of U.S. electricity output in 2019.

Wave Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages :
  1. Wave energy is free as it comes from waves of oceans with significant potential supply.
  2. Wave power is renewable.
  3. It does not generate pollution.
  4. The waves generated in oceans are almost continuous so no need for power storage.
  5. Wave energy has greater predictability.
  6. No need for land for wave generation.
  1. There is more distance between generation and load centre.
  2. The machine may cause harm to fishes.
  3. Strong waves may destroy the device
  4. The initial cost of installing machines may be costlier.

Best Design for Wave Energy Converter

The biggest challenge in producing wave energy is its design because previously designed models were lasting for only a few months due to the impact of waves on WEC.So, it becomes too expensive for its maintenance. So, the best design which will last long is the ‘Oscillating Water Column‘ because 

  1. It doesn’t disturb the marine life
  2. It can be constructed at the coastal line so that it would not disturb the shipping lane
  3. Seawater doesn’t come in direct contact with any of the machine parts. So, there won’t be any corrosion results in a long life.

To better understand this simple but effective and maintenance-free design, here is the awesome video that explains in detail :

Video reference : YouTube by Ideas for the Green Planet

Top 7 Companies Manufacturing Wave Energy Converter

1.Eco Wave Power,Sweden

Established in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2011, Eco Wave Power is a Swedish company that has developed patented, intelligent and cost-effective technology to transform ocean and sea waves into renewable electricity. In line with the Power Purchase Agreement(PPA), Eco Wave Power is the world’s first wave power company to own and operate a wave energy array linked to the grid.

2. Wello Oy,Finland

Wello is the leading technology company in ocean-wave energy conversion. The expertise and zeal of the multinational team of workers have been brought to life by the Penguin Wave Energy Converter. With the Penguin, Wello introduces a new idea with a special working principle for the transfer of wave energy.

3.Wave Dragon,Denmark

Wave Dragon is the only wave energy converter technology that incorporates current, mature offshore and hydro turbine technology in a novel way. The Wave Dragon is an over-topping type of massive offshore wave energy converter; a floating hydro-electric dam and reflects state-of-the-art wave energy converter technology. The Wave Dragon is a large scale technology developed by Erik Friis-Madsen to produce electricity from ocean wave energy.

4.Ocean Wave Energy Company (OWECO)

OWECO Ocean Wave Energy Company is designing the Ocean Wave Energy Converter OWEC®. The company’s goal is to provide self-stabilized modules with the high electrical generation of water wave efficiency, robust reliability, low maintenance and low true cost. OWEC® was developed by a 20-year-old student of architecture with an increasing passion for industrial design.

5. Calwave Energy,USA

CalWave is a next-generation energy company dedicated to harnessing the clean energy of ocean waves for communities around the world to generate electricity and freshwater. The company won an award from the United States in November 2019. Energy Department to develop the next iteration of our Wave Energy Converter submerged pressure differential (WEC).

6. NEMOS,Germany

A revolutionary method for producing electricity from ocean waves is the NEMOS Wave Energy Converter. The incoming energy is consumed by an elongated floating body and transferred by a spring-loaded belt drive to the generator.

7. Oscilla Power,USA

Oscilla Power, Inc. (OPI) is designing an innovative wave energy converter that can unlock the enormous renewable energy potential of the oceans in the world. Oscilla Power is a privately owned firm backed by founders with deep experience in the oil and financial services sectors. OPI is located in Seattle, WA and has satellite offices in Edinburgh, Scotland and Kochi, India. Oscilla Power has received a $200,000 grant from the US Department of Energy to explore how wave energy converters can be supported by compressed air storage.

Latest Wave Energy Projects Around The World

  1. Oscilla Power is planning a 1-MW wave energy demo device in India. The company is preparing to build a 1-MW wave power system next to Vizhinjam International Seaport, near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala State.
  2. To begin a 20-MW wave energy project, Eco Wave Power is setting up a Portuguese unit.
  3. Eco Wave Power Inks MoU for the production of 50-MW wave energy in Vietnam
  4. CorPower has secured a 10-year wave energy project permit in Portugal to test our next generation WECs under the most violent and demanding maritime conditions.
  5. In mid-July, a first-of-its-kind, full-scale cell module made its way to the Assembly Workshop in Wales. This marked a milestone for Bombora‘s 1.5 megawatts (MW) mWave Pembrokeshire Demonstration Project, to be deployed off the coast of Pembrokeshire in the first half of 2021. Each cell module will be covered in a robust rubber membrane. As waves roll over mWave, underwater pressure rises, causing the rubber membranes to compress in series, pushing air within the membranes along the duct and through the turbine, turning the generator into electricity.

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