Monday, February 07, 2005

Wave Energy News: USA, UK and South Africa

There are multiple ways to tap the energy of the ocean, including its tides, thermal features, and salinity. But wave energy appears to be the most promising and closest to commercial production.

A new report from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) suggests that generation of electricity from wave energy may be economically feasible in the near future. The study was carried out by EPRI in collaboration with the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and energy agencies and utilities from six states.

Conceptual designs for 300,000 megawatt-hour (MWh) plants (nominally 120 MW plants operating at 40% capacity factor) were performed for five sites in the United States: Waimanalo Beach, Oahu, Hawaii; Old Orchard Beach, Cumberland County, Maine; WellFleet, Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Gardiner, Douglas County, Oregon; and Ocean Beach, San Francisco County, California.

The study determined that wave energy conversion may be economically feasible within the territorial waters of the United States as soon as investments are made to enable wave technology to reach a cumulative production volume of 10,000 - 20,000 MW.(For comparison land-based wind turbines currently generate 40,000 MW.)

"Wave energy will first become commercially competitive with land-based wind technology at a cumulative production volume of 10,000 or fewer MW in Hawaii and northern California, about 20,000 MW in Oregon and about 40, 000 MW in Massachusetts," said Roger Bedard, ocean energy project manager. This forecast was based on the output of a 90 MW Pelamis wave energy conversion plant design and application of technology learning curves that will enable cost savings.

The forecast results have convinced the project team of the rationale for investment in wave energy technology research and development, including demonstration projects to prove the feasibility of wave energy conversion technology in actual sea environments.

Bedard explained that there are several compelling arguments for investing in offshore wave energy technology. First, with proper siting, conversion of ocean wave energy to electricity is believed to be one of the most environmentally benign ways to generate electricity. Second, offshore wave energy offers a way to minimize the 'Not in my backyard' (NIMBY) issues that plague many energy infrastructure projects. Wave energy conversion devices have a very low profile and are located far enough away from the shore that they are generally not visible. Third, wave energy is more predictable than solar and wind energy.

A characteristic of wave energy that suggests that it may be one of the lowest cost renewable energy sources is its high power density. Solar and wind energy is concerntrated into ocean waves, making it easier and cheaper to harvest. Experts estimate that 0.2% of the ocean's untapped energy could power the entire world.

Wave power was delivered to the electrical grid for first time in August 2004. The electricity was generated by a full-scale preproduction Pelamis prototype in Orkney, Scotland by Ocean Power Delivery Corporation.

The new EPRI study indicates that a site off the central Oregon coast is probably the best place in the country to establish a United States Ocean Energy Research and Demonstration Center. Electrical engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) have already created three prototypes of devices that could harness wave energy: A permanent magnet linear generator, a permanent magnet rack and pinion gearbox, and a contactless direct drive generator buoy.

Meanwhile in a British company hopes to harness South Africa's wave energy and establish three wavepower farms. The South African government has set targets to introduce renewable energy over the next decade, but there are no commercial renewable energy power plants in the country.

And in more wave energy news, UK Energy Minister Mike O'Brien recently announced a $78 million support scheme for wave power. The new scheme will allocate up to GBP £42 million towards supporting a number of larger scale pre-commercial demonstration wave and tidal farms.

"One of the other extremely promising possibilities with wave energy is the ability to scale these systems either up or down in size, whatever you need to fit the electrical demand," OSU professor of electrical engineering - Annette von Jouanne said. "Small systems could even be used with individual boats at anchor to generate their own electricity."

The development of wave energy right now is probably 15-20 years behind wind power, which is just starting to achieve some optimal production technologies

EPRI Offshore Wave Energy Reports

Eskom Press Release on Wave Energy

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

15-20 years away?? Let's see.... hmmmm.... dumping $100 billion into Moon bases and Mars landings over next 20 years? Or similar govt/private/utility investments developing/producing renewable capacity (including this Wave concept) over the same period?

High time we implore of this national debate, Yet?

Just think of it:

1) Currently, nuclear power plant decommissioning costs alone run $500-600 million USD and up. With the expected 50+ decommissionings over the next 20 or so years alone, you could build perhaps 40-50 GWh in new, renewable capacity?!? And we want to just build more 'future-decommissioning' sucking sounds? Time out here..

2) 'Plug-in' gas-hybrid vehicles, say, charged up via renewable-electric supply, could reverse how many $billions each month in US's current monthly Trade deficit?

3) Wave-generator platforms + attached Wind-Turbines (instead of anchoring each individual Wind Turbine in off-shore wind farms)? That could be double the MWh generation per "Farm," with less than double the capital costs??

4) How many jobs could be created, new science discovered/exploited and how much growth in GDP added, via a 'Marshall Plan' transformation to Wave and other innovative, renewable power capacity?

Hey, like most of us I'm a major fan of solar-system exploration and discovery; but it is time for a serious national debate to commence, my fellow Americans and patriots of ALL partisan affiliation. No question there...


Offset Fossil Fuel (OFF)! ;)

2:51 am, February 07, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am interested to know more about the British company that is proposing to develop 3 wave farms in South Africa. There is no reference to it in the media. I am interested in developing a prototype OWC system on the east coast of South Africa. I represent a development NGO, and I believe that Eskom, the power utility, has shown remarkably little interest in renewable energy. I would like to hear from anyone who has any information.


3:45 am, January 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One unmentioned benefit to this would be to put off limits fish breeding areas like the Georges Banks by locating these units in areas that require protection. IF this goes large scale it could provide secondary benefits to the ocean ecology by preventing bottom draggers access to these fragile areas. More than one way to derive benefit.

7:06 am, June 14, 2006  
Blogger Phi Tran said...

Please check at:
It demonstrate that the same rotor can harness:
1- The "gravity" (Uthilize the Up/down) by making artificially creating a current at the deeper almost stand still water. (as demonstrated by the video clips).
2- The other method which is much much more promised is utilizing the wave surface current; where by the effect of the wave water particles move in a circle. This can be harness by making the rotor float but right below the surface.
3- Over all The technology is THERE AND NOW; A Conservative estimate; a 1 MW would not cost more than 100,000 USD to build a rotor (not counting gearbox and motor).

Please keep your fingers crossed.



10:05 am, February 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are designing and deploying both wave and oean current systems to add to our $14 billion in wind, bio-fuel and geothermal facilities. This technology (wave and tidal) is probably one of the most expensive in terms of wear and tear, but rather cheap to produce. Like dead birds from wind turbines, you can be certain fish, seals and other animals will be killed by anything man puts in the ocean and the environmentalists will scream bloody murder (and be somewhat correct). The question for man to consider is at what cost and benefit to other species and the planet and our own economies does it make sense. While there are many systems that attempt to get the most out of the wave energy, the KISS principle applies - especially due to manufacturing, installation and maintenance costs. A shore based system will need to be adjustable or removale, since wave heights (in relation to land) will rise with global warming. There are many considerations here, but one thing is certain - with oil topping $100 a bbl, this, like many 'cute ideas' is sure to become the norm, rather than just another prototype. See goldpactpower for more info

8:47 pm, January 08, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just paid the gas co. $437.00 to heat my 5 room house to 68 degrees for the month of February at 42 degrees parallel North. Let's bring on the alternatives and stop the current foolishness.

11:42 am, March 09, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These buoy products are not efficent and very high cost. I have been watching another product that has gotten much press called the SeaDog Wave Pump it seems to be much less costly, multi use and have much higher efficiencies. Check these guys out I think its the real contender to solving several of our world issues

11:47 am, March 19, 2008  

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