We already harness energy from the sun, the wind, and many other natural processes for our own uses, and electricity generated from ocean waves could be the next big thing in renewables. Known as wave energy, the concept is relatively new and technologies are still a bit rudimentary (and expensive), especially when it comes to large-scale energy generation. CorPower Ocean, based in Sweden, has developed a buoy that is surprisingly productive. One small buoy can generate enough electricity from the ocean to power 200 homes. Imagine what a farm full of floating buoys could do.
At just 26 feet wide, CorPower’s buoy is small in comparison to other wave energy generators. The company says their floating orange buoys are five times more efficient than the next competing technology, due to the addition of phase-controlled oscillation which makes high energy density possible. By setting up farms where hundreds of buoys would simultaneously generate clean electricity, CorPower estimates as much as 20 percent of the total electricity on Earth could be supplied through wave energy.
Related: Apple invests $1.5 million in sustainable wave energy projects in Ireland
Because the ocean is always in motion, wave energy could potentially be more efficient than solar or wind, both of which suffer in less-than-reliable conditions. Wave energy generation is just as clean as solar and wind, too, with zero carbon dioxide emissions. So far, a one-half scale model of the wave energy converter has passed tank tests with flying colors, and the CorPower team is heading out to open waters later this year for field tests of its game-changing technology.
Images via CorPower Ocean
I know people who worked on this. It's nice to see someone actually making it work. The tricky bit is to convert a very unpredictable motion into energy without losing most of it. (A wind turbine is much easier since you have almost the same motion most of the time.) On the other hand, an efficiency of just 20% is still ok here., since you start with so much and it's no problem converting 80% of it into heat - lots of watercooling.