December 09 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy Year: 2020 Rating: 3 Hot
While solar power is often described as the world's great untapped clean source of energy, ocean power deserves as much attention. In fact, it deserves a lot of attention given the expectation that the world will double energy consumption in the decades ahead. And the reality that most of the world's population lives close to an ocean.
A Low Mainteance Linear Generator?
Now a Swiss team from Upsalla University has developed and tested a novel system. For nearly three years, a wave power plant has stood on the bottom of the ocean a couple of kilometers off the west coast of Sweden, near Lysekil. Rafael Waters, from the Uppsala University Division of Electricity, designed and built the facility as part of his doctoral project.
The team's 'linear generator' generates electricity with the slow up and down movements of the waves. An ordinary generator transforms rotation energy to electricity, and it needs to turn at about 1500 rpm to be efficient. (Images)
“This means that a wave energy station with an ordinary generator needs energy transmission systems such as gearboxes or hydraulic systems and other complicated details that wear out and require much more maintenance than a linear generator,” says Rafael Waters. “Our generator has functioned without any trouble every time we started it up over the years, even though it has received no maintenance and has sometimes stood still for months.”
Future plans for the wave power array
Rafael Waters and his colleagues are busy determining parameters such as power output and buoy size in order to attain the best results in the long term.
“With smaller buoys and lower power output, there is less stress on the wave power station. On the other hand, the goal is to produce as much power as possible. This is ultimately an economic consideration, and we want to understand how to optimize the construction.”
Next year the wave power facility in Lysekil will be complemented by two more plants and connected to one of the world's first wave energy parks, which will be capable of supplying household electricity to about 60 homes. In a few years' time, the park will include some ten plants.
In the long term, wave energy should be able to supply Sweden with about 10TWh of electricity per year, comparable to 12 nuclear power plants.
"But other countries have much more potential," says Rafael Waters. "Norway's waves, for instance, contain ten times as much energy as ours, and Norway's total potential is more than ten times higher than Sweden's."
EureakAlert Press Release
Material adaptive from Press Release:
Anneli Waara, Uppsala University, Informationsavdelningen / Communications Department
Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council