Generating energy from ocean waves—seems straightforward in theory but is rife with difficulties in practice. For starters, developing wave energy plants is expensive. Additionally, the infrastructure can harm marine life, and storms like hurricanes and typhoons that frequently hit coastal areas might quickly destroy any generators.
There have been a plethora of costly but ultimately ineffective prototypes, ranging in design from buoys to underwater turbines to enormous water wheels, as a result of the numerous difficulties associated with attempting to generate electricity from the waves and tides. Because of this, this sustainable energy source's footprint is so negligible in comparison to wind and solar, and it has not yet proven to be economically feasible on a large scale.
The only grid-connected wave energy array floaters in the world have even started to operate in Gibraltar thanks to one company's success in overcoming many of the obstacles posed by this enormous untapped energy source.
Swedish-Israeli business Eco Wave Power was established in 2011 by Inna Braverman. The company wants to make sustainable energy available and affordable to everyone. Since more than half of the world's population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast, most people can easily access this untapped source of electricity.
Eco Wave made the decision to construct floaters that attach to already-existing on-shore or near-shore infrastructure, such as piers, believing that simpler solutions are preferable in this situation where too complex ones have in the past failed. It was challenging to connect the electricity produced by earlier floaters that were not connected to piers to the grid.
The floater designs from Eco Waves are the best in their class after more than ten years of development. By rising and falling in tandem with the waves' motion, the floaters compress hydraulic fluid to produce electricity. The fluid that has been stored in the accumulator is released, turning a hydraulic motor that drives an electric generator to provide clean energy. Returning to a tank, the hydraulic fluid is then stored for the following wave.
Because of its straightforward construction and ability to interact with existing infrastructure, it is also very affordable to utilize. Installed onshore or close to shore also makes it simple to connect the electricity produced to the grid. In contrast to underwater turbines, which can unintentionally kill marine life and disturb underwater ecosystems, the floaters likewise pose little to no damage to nearby marine life.
The real challenge in developing Eco Waves floaters was making them able to survive storms despite their basic simplicity. Only the floaters themselves are at great risk in stormy weather because the majority of the system's costs are on land.
By using a storm protection mechanism to protect the floaters, the business once again shown that less is more. In stormy conditions, the floaters change from their horizontal generation position into a vertical position against the pier, successfully shielding them from the waves.
Outlook for growth
The World Electricity Council believes that it has the potential to create twice as much energy as the world now produces. Eco Wave was the first company to effectively market wave energy, having initially made a grid connection in 2016.
Even though it might be challenging to predict which businesses would succeed over the long term in the early phases of an industry, Eco Wave has demonstrated the strength of its concept. For a number of nations throughout the world, including the United Kingdom, Scotland, Gibraltar, Italy, Israel, Australia, Mexico, Portugal, and Nigeria, it already has initiatives in the works. The success of Eco Waves has prompted investments in several wave and tidal energy producing projects. For the commercialization of large-scale wave energy projects, the Wave Energy Demonstration at Utility Scale to Enable Arrays (WEDUSEA) collaboration in the UK and Europe will provide 19.6 million euros ($19.3 million). OceanEnergy, an Irish business that has created what it claims to be the greatest capacity floating wave energy device in the world, is leading this endeavor.
To promote tidal and river current energy systems including tidal turbines and tidal stream devices, the U.S. Department of Energy has set aside $35 million in financing.
There have been a few more tidal stream and wave energy projects that have gone online recently, but there was a noticeable acceleration in 2021. In Europe, 2.2 megawatts of tidal stream capacity were added last year, compared to just 260 kilowatts in 2020, according to a March report from Ocean Energy Europe. 681 kilowatts of wave energy were installed in 2021, a threefold increase.
In 2021, 3.12 megawatts of tidal stream capacity and 1.38 megawatts of wave energy were installed globally.
The wave energy industry is still in its infancy, making Eco Wave a high-risk investment prospect, but this pioneering company has an industry-leading product, a viable business model and a pipeline to scale up. It is also currently one of the very few ways that average retail investors can invest in wave energy. The vast majority of companies that are developing wave or tidal energy systems are still not ready to go public.
For many ocean-bordering countries, wave energy could be a great addition to the renewable energy mix.
Waves would provide 24/7 energy that could be harnessed for clean electricity generation. Because wave energy is still in its early stages, it remains expensive to install and the potential environmental disadvantages are not yet fully known.
The bottom line is that wave power has enormous global potential. However, the industry needs more funding and research provided by the global society to finalize the technology involved so that countries and utilities can begin adding wave energy to their renewable energy arsenal to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
More information: https://www.ecowavepower.com