With Congress voting to lift the ban on offshore oil drilling, a Republican Vice Presidential candidate who appears to need a serious tutorial on global warming and an on-going energy crisis, thereâ€™s never been a better time to develop new sources of renewable energy. Wind and solar energy, though slow to roll-out, have already gained wide public acceptance, perhaps itâ€™s time for another look at wave power, the third side of the alternative energy triangle.
Harnessing the power of the oceanâ€™s waves can provide sustainable energy for large populations without producing any greenhouse gas emissions from an energy source that is nearly inexhaustible. Not a bad ideaâ€¦ Here are several companies that have either existing or developing wave power technologies.
BioWAVE, designed by BioPower Systems, are pod-like devices located beneath the ocean surface. Moving to the rhythm of the oceanâ€™s waves, similar to sea plants, BioWAVE was created for maximum energy absorption. In extreme conditions, the devices automatically turn off and lie flat against the ocean floor to avoid any harm to marine creatures.
AquaBUOYS created by Finavera Renewables are floating devices secured offshore. Much like buoys, the inspiration of their design, AquaBUOYS ride atop ocean waves and are designed to endure the harshest of ocean environments, including tsunamis. Access their website for a detailed description of how the energy transfer takes place.
C-Wave (above) is an offshore system designed to survive even the most violent of storm waves. Although large in size, its floating design allows it to move easily with storm waves, similar to a moored ship. It is highly efficient in converting wave energy into electrical energy, especially in longer waves. And, because the system sits on a stable frame, maintenance at sea is easy and accessible.
Norwayâ€™s Langlee Wave Power has created another interesting patent pending underwater system (see above). It is designed for use at depths of up to forty meters, making it ideal for coastlines across the globe. Langlee Water Wings move in motion with waves beneath the ocean surface, harnessing energy from the wavesâ€™ lateral movement. Access their website for videos on their technology.
SurfPower is a patented wave technology that uses pontoons and a piston-like technology to tap into the kinetic energy of rising and falling waves. A typical 25MW installation consisting of fifty pontoons anchored near shore is projected to generate fifty GWh annually. The design is estimated to be cost-competitive with wind energy installations.
Riding the power of waves is on the horizon, another way to win the race to energy independence.