2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Wave Swell Energy engineers have developed a new system for generating electricity from wave energy that outperforms most other renewable energy sources. A description of the system is available on the New Atlas website.
One of the main incentives for the development of alternative energy is global warming and limited resources for traditional sources. Also, the use of wind, solar or water power helps to generate electricity in isolated and resource-poor areas such as islands. Wave Swell Energy engineers have developed a reliable, relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain wave power generator for this purpose.
The system is an oscillating water column. There is a chamber under the water, into which water periodically gets under the influence of waves. The generator operates in two cycles. Since the chamber has a limited volume, an increase in the water level in the chamber creates an increased pressure. It is reduced due to the release of air through special valves. When the wave begins to recede, the second cycle begins: the valves close, the water level in the chamber drops, due to which a reduced pressure is formed in it. Air entering the chamber from the outside begins to turn the turbine, combined with an electric generator.
The system operates in two cycles: in the first, idle cycle, air exits through the valves, and in the second it turns a turbine combined with an electric generator
There are systems in which bi-directional turbines are installed that can rotate in both directions. However, such turbines have a more complex design and, as a rule, are inferior to unidirectional ones in efficiency.
The main conceptual advantage of the developed design is that only concrete is under the water, while all the electronics and mechanical elements are above it. This means that metal parts will not come into direct contact with water, and, accordingly, will be much less susceptible to corrosion. Another advantage is that diagnostics and repairs will also be carried out in the air, without the need for expensive and complex subsea equipment.
The company says one generator will have a peak output of about one megawatt and an average output of 470 kilowatts. This means that the system will have an installed capacity utilization factor much higher than solar and wind energy sources.
Ultimately, the structure should measure 20 by 20 meters wide and 18 meters high, of which 10 meters will be under water. At the moment, the company has tested a scaled-down model, which showed that the development is ready for commercialization. The first full-size generator is slated to be installed in mid-2018 on the coast of King Island, near Australia. It is assumed that the cost of the generated energy will be at the level of 7 US cents per kilowatt-hour, and if the technology is scaled up, it will be possible to reduce the price to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. By comparison, engineers estimate the cost of generating electricity in Hawaii, where most of the electricity is generated by diesel generators, at 40 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The development and implementation of generators operating on the energy of sea waves is much slower than for wind and solar. Recently, several new developments in this area have been presented: wind turbines without blades, a generator in the shape of a bird's wings or a solar roof tile.