The idea of using waves as an energy source is far from new; in fact, attempts have been documented as early as 1799. But since then, harnessing wave energy for commercial applications has proven challenging: devices are vulnerable to harsh weather, have a high capital cost, or simply don’t produce enough power for a viable business project.
But in Scotland AWS ocean energy wants to change that.
The startup has reported results 20% better than expected for her Archimedes Waveswinga prototype wave energy generator that has been tested on the ocean for the past six months at the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) in Orkney.
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The Archimedes Waveswing is a 50 ton cylindrical metal buoy attached to the seabed. It responds to changes in submarine water pressure caused by passing waves and converts the resulting motion into electricity via a direct-drive generator.
Here’s a brief explanation of how it works:
The buoy has a number of important competitive advantages.
Unlike wave power systems designed to rest on the ocean surface, AWS wave sway performance is not limited to motion – and therefore power output – which depends on wave height. Instead, it expands and contracts in response to the pressure changes exerted by a passing wave, meaning it can achieve a true point-absorbing effect regardless of the shape and size of the wave.
At the same time, its submarine location helps it avoid damage from harsh weather.
The company also claims that smart control software allows performance to be fine-tuned to the incoming sea state, maximizing power per ton of construction and thus minimizing costs.
AWS reports that during testing at EMEC, the wave energy converter recorded an average power of more than 10 kW and peaks of 80 kW, “during a period of moderate wave conditions,” against its initial rated capacity of 16 kW.
The trials also showed that it can survive force-10 storm conditions and be fully deployed in 12 hours.
Here’s a look at the real-life performance of the device during testing:
According to Simon Greythe startup’s CEO, the Waveswing’s single-absorber design makes it “ideal” for remote energy applications, including powering subsea oilfield assets and oceanographic monitoring.
“However, for utility-scale energy, we believe the future lies in multi-absorber platforms that can reach the scale needed for wave energy to make a significant contribution to renewable energy delivery,” Gray added. .
That is why the company wants to deploy its device in water depths of more than 25 meters, either as a single buoy or for integration into a multi-absorber structure.
In the former case, a single unit would be configured for powers between 15kW and 500kW, while a multi-absorber unit could provide up to 10MW.
The current phase of sea trials is scheduled for late this year, and AWS is exploring realignment for further testing in early 2023. In the meantime, it is seeking talks with commercialization partners, considering applications to power remote oilfield infrastructure and aquaculture, to generate renewable energy. supply to remote maritime communities.
Harnessing wave energy is an area with enormous potential. It doesn’t rely on light like solar power, or the power of the wind like wind power – meaning it can guarantee a reliable supply of electricity, which in turn could drive down renewable energy prices significantly.