Eco Wave Power To Fuel Our Energy Revolution?

Is wave power a viable solution to the planets energy crisis? Many blue energy innovations have tried to storm into the market, but few ever make it past the break water. The Israeli Eco Wave Power is the latest sea surfer to challenge the salty wave.

 

History of Wave Power

The concept of harvesting energy from the waves dates back more than a century ago. Although the list of technologies built to convert sea and ocean swells into electricity or desalinated water are extensive, only a handful have contributed much significance to the global demand. The reasons are what you would expect; expensive technology/maintenance, fugly appearance, interruption of fishing zones, and concerns over marine ecology.


First Wave Farm 2008

The worlds first Aguçadoura Wave Farm was built off the coast of Portugal in 2008. The Pelamis machine only lasted for 2 months before the bearings encountered an unrepairable technical problem. Since then, numerous competitors have constructed various wave farms and technologies, and some are in operation today.

The Pelamis MachineThe Pelamis Machine

 

Recent Wave Power Technologies

S.D.E. is a technology also originating from Israel, which predates Eco Wave Power. More recently SwellFuel created a couple Ocean Energy Converters. The Australian company BioPower Systems is set to launch a pilot project. And another breakthrough in wave power technology is the triboelectric nanogenerator.


Eco Wave Power (EWP)

EWP plans to open a 50 MW medium scale power plant in China which is a significant Wattage with respect to wave power. The EWP company is committed and offers manufacturing, assembly, installation, operation and maintenance services. The most significant EWP highlight is the proximity to land. This not only saves a ton on maintenance and start up costs, but reduces the offshore environmental concerns. This is a huge win for EWP because it allows them to be cost competitive in the marketplace amongst wind, solar, and even oil & gas. Plus being the most environmentally friendly wave technology it stands to capture the hearts of even the surfers. 

 

The other noteworthy aspect of the EWP technologies are the unique designs. The Eco “Wave Clapper” and “Power Wing” have specialized characteristics suited for different sea conditions. Although their technical descriptions could use some tuneups, it is clear these devices contain sophisticated technology. The 'Power Wing' and its funny shape is designed to absorb energy from irregular waves that have perpendicular motion. Its design also serves to reduce the load on the fixed structure, and allows wave reflux helping with its efficiency. The 'Wave Clapper' is even more complex and has an optimized hydro dynamic design suited for 3 different wave heights. They both have several interesting mechanisms to protect themselves during storms. Both can crank themselves all the way up, or take in water and fold all the way down in a vertical position. Have a look at the Eco Wave Power site for a complete list of cool features.

 


Energy Budgets

Although these wave devices are awesome, they still raise questions about the overall consequences of transferring energy from the oceanic system. The effects are likely negligible, but should be considered as emergent plans are scaled up. Often with so called renewable energy we forget that it is part of an existing finite system. The conservation of energy law states that energy can not be created nor destroyed, but only transferred and transformed. Wind farms dampen the atmospheric system, current solar collection increases planetary heat. Extracting energy from the wind or oceans has a measurable effect on the planet. Although offsetting green house gasses is a step forward, we should not forget to consider the possible effects that large scale alternative energy farms can have on our earth's energy equilibrium.