With the belief that wave energy could meet 10% of global demand by 2050 and that the UK has a lot to say in that field, Wales is in the race to find a viable solution . To do this, efforts are focused on WaveSub, a technology designed and manufactured entirely in the country, with which they believe they have solved the main challenges posed by the generation of tidal power.
This is how Marine Power Systems sees it, which has just developed a prototype ready to be tested in real conditions. For this, it has needed nine years of work and five million pounds in public aid and private contributions with which, they say, they have come up with a design that solves the four great challenges to the use of waves as a sustainable energy source. ” It promises progress for the booming industry of marine energy generation affordable and reliable energy” , say manufacturers. So much so, that a 100-meter-long, 5-megawatt device could provide enough power for 5,000 homes.
To do this, one of the first obstacles overcome has been that of the equipment’s ability to resist at sea, even in the most severe conditions. This system that operates 10 kilometers from the shore achieves it with the ability to alter the depth at which it is located and, in this way, submerge to resist storms. “It hides”, explain the manufacturers, who underline that, in addition to protecting the equipment, this particularity is crucial for it to continue generating energy at an optimal level regardless of the state of the sea.
In addition, all this is simplified with a particularity compared to other systems. Compared to many other approaches, WaveSub opts to operate below the sea surface, in such a way that it guarantees the capture of energy without exposing itself to risks. With this location, the innovation continuously uses the orbital motion of the waves to drive a sophisticated PTO system. From there, the generated energy is transferred to land through a submarine cable.
Two other challenges that this technology claims to have overcome refer to costs, both in production and in operations, two key aspects for the use of this energy to be viable. And so they believe from Marine Power Systems, which is now towing its prototype to the FaBTest test area in Cornwall, to see if the forecasts are replicated in a wide range of marine conditions.
The next step of this innovation will be the construction of a full-scale system for connection in 2020 in a territory, Great Britain, which could concentrate up to 35% of the potential for generating wave energy from all over Europe. “Marine energy is a sector in which Wales is well positioned to play a leadership role and we are making substantial improvements to put ourselves at the forefront of innovation in this field,” said Gareth Stockman, CEO of the company. British.
But this country is not the only one that takes positions in this field. Norway, which already takes advantage of this resource with an installation of 250 kWh of active power; or Sweden, a pioneer in commercially producing energy from the marine movement, are some examples.
However, there are more and they extend from end to end of the planet. Australia, Brazil or Japan are some of the countries that are exploring this matter, as is the United States. The interest of the North American giant is reflected in 12 million dollars in aid distributed in June 2017 to give a boost to technological development that allows capturing energy from the country’s seas and rivers.
Specifically, the United States focuses its efforts on the matter on four projects, two of which will allow testing prototypes of wave energy converters (WEC) in open waters. In addition, the grants granted will make it possible to advance in the integration of radar wave measurement buoys, which would allow to refine the predictions.
With global electricity consumption expected to double the current 21,000 TWh per year by 2050, the race to find solutions to safely and cost-effectively source wave energy is underway. At stake, an inexhaustible source of energy, the movement of water, which could add up to 80,000 TWh per year, according to the International Energy Agency.