Harnessing the ocean to produce usable power is the mission of alternative energy company Wave Star Energy. The Wave Star vision is about more than just building a machine. In fact, it’s about more than wave energy.
The team at Wave Star want to change the entire world’s mindset about how we produce clean energy.
“At Wavestar we don’t just want to produce electricity; we want to power a whole movement that understands we need many clean and elegant solutions working together in order to meet the planet’s energy needs,” the companies website says.
The Denmark-based company are developing a process – called the Wavestar – that converts the energy from waves through floats on the surface of the ocean.
The concept was invented by sailing enthusiasts Niels and Keld Hansen in 2000. The challenge was to create a regular output of energy from periodic ocean swells and waves that are 5-10 seconds apart.
This was achieved by developing a floating machine with a row of half-submerged buoys, which rise and fall in turn as the wave passes. This rise and fall movement allows energy to be continually produced despite waves being periodic.
“You could say that in the long run it’s necessary that we go from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy — it’s what we have to do to help protect the environment, look after our earth and it would be good for all mankind,” Wave Star Energy co-founder Niels Hansen said in a video.
So how exactly does this work?
The Wavestar machine draws energy from wave power with floats that rise and fall with the up and down motion of waves. The floats are attached by arms to a platform that stands on legs anchored to the sea floor.
The motion of the floats is transferred via hydraulics into the rotation of a generator, producing electricity.
Powering the motor and generator in this way enables continuous energy production and a smooth output.
The Wavestar team say that this is a radical and unique concept in wave energy; it’s one of the few ways to convert fluctuating wave power into the high-speed rotation necessary to generate electricity.
Wave energy will play a crucial role in securing our energy future, but only machines that can withstand the strongest storms will survive.
This machine is built to last. With a patented storm protection system, the machine’s designers say that it has a guaranteed sea survivability and can continue working no matter hat the ocean conditions are.
It can continue production in strong wind and waves, and automatically raises the floats out of the sea when the conditions becomes too stormy.
The Wavestar machine’s efficiency is being continually increased. The design was recently modified to reduce the cost by 40 per cent, while energy harvesting capacity and other aspects of the machine are being constantly improved for better efficiency.
The Wavestar machine is less visible and quieter than wind turbines, and it also has a positive impact on wildlife below the machine, creating a sanctuary enhanced by the limits on nearby fishing.
Test and research machines have been operating in the North Sea and the Danish fjords since 2006 and they are among the first wave energy machines to be connected to the grid.
With the 500 kW machine in development, the company has claimed a position among the leading alternative energy developers in the world.
Wave Star aim to make it the first series-produced 1 MW machine for big oceans, ready for sale in 2017.
Wave Star is not stopping there though. The machine will then be doubled in size, capable of handling twice the wave height.
This will increase each machine’s output to 6 MW, enabling a single machine to provide energy for 4,000 homes.
On paper at least, these are impressive numbers. The Wavestar project is truly aiming to be a gamechanger in the world of renewable energy. The oceans of the globe combined represent approximately 1.35 billion cubic kilometres. That is 1,260,000,000,000,000,000,000 litres of water.
Thought leaders believe that if only a fraction of the kinetic power of the ocean’s tides was captured then it would meet the energy needs of the world several times over.
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Video Credit: ScienceNature
Video Credit Bottom: WavestarDK
Photo Credit: Wave Star