Ocean Wave Energy - Surfing For Electricity
Capturing energy from ocean waves was always a good idea, but now it is becoming an industry with the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter (see photo above). If you understand what a surfer does when waiting for the best wave, in remaining stationary and letting each wave pass them by, then you also understand the motion of the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter as it generates electricity.
The Pelamis Wave Energy Converter is designed and manufactured by Pelamis Wave Power in Edinburgh, Scotland and the company currently employs over 70 people and has had inward venture capital investment of £40 million. Wave Power captures the energy from each passing ocean wave and what the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter does is ride the undulation of the wave and generates electricity, while maintaining a stationary mooring to the seabed.
Each Pelamis machine is 140 metres long (approx 459 feet) and 3.5 metres in diameter (11.5 feet) and made up of four sections. There are 3 power generation units with 1 unit installed at each of the three moving joints. The Wave Energy Converter is rated at 750 kW with an expected average of 25-40% of this power being continuously generated once installed. Pelamis Wave Power says one unit is capable of meeting the annual electricity demand up to 500 homes. The Wave Energy Converter works by transferring the wave motion to hydraulic rams which in turn force hydraulic fluid past hydraulic motors to drive the generators that produce electricity. Each unit has a power hook-up to the seabed.
Pelamis Wave Power is currently working on three wave farm projects, which are located in Agucadoura, Portugal - Orkney, Scotland - and 15 km off Hayle near Cornwall in the UK. These three projects are full scale trials of the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter, with Portugal being an initial order for 3 Pelamis machines (2.25MW); Orkney, Scotland an order for 4 machines (3 MW); and Cornwall an order for up to seven machines (5.25MW). Both the Portugal and Cornwall trials have expansion clauses to enable the construction of large scale wave farms if the installation trials are successful. Pelamis has estimated that wave power could service between 15-25% of the United Kingdom's current energy demands.
The current significant investors in Pelamis Wave Power (greater than a 5% shareholding) are Emerald Technology Ventures, Norsk Hydro Technology Ventures, BlackRock Investment Managers, 3i, Carbon Trust, Nettuno Power, and Tudor BVI Global Portfolio.