Climate Change

Whatever happened to wave power? Giant surfing snakes, apparently…

You, like I, may have wondered this at some point in the last few years.

Wave power, ocean power, marine power, whatever we call it, matters a lot.

This article, using examples from Australia, shows some of the barriers to making it happen.

It’s a useful short piece. That is if wave power, er, floats your boat. (sorry)

Some brief highlights:

  • At least 20 high-profile converters have been floated to the prototype stage around the world — including designs based on seaweed, giant surfing snakes and huge floating power stations — but a clear front-runner hasn’t emerged as yet.
  • Wave energy is currently in the same stage of development that wind energy was 30 years ago. 
  • While all emerging technologies are costly, wave is more expensive than land-based options precisely because it’s in the ocean. This means that it needs to be able to withstand corrosion and a lack of regular maintenance, colonisation by sea creatures, and the destructive power of waves, which can, ironically, carry too much energy.
  • Most designs are already efficient enough to capture huge amounts of electricity — some can harvest up to 90 per cent of a wave’s power — but developing them and testing them in the field is extremely costly.
  •  “The big thing that’s held wave energy back is that it’s a capital-intensive process and it takes time. And those are the two things that investors don’t like,”
  • “We’re close to getting to the phase where we can prove to investors and governments that the technology can generate reliable and affordable energy. And that’s when the industry can really take off.”

Some of the marine power technology, based partly on biomimicry, sounds quite cool. Take a look at it here.

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