Technology - 09/November/2018

Wave power struggles to prove its viability

While solutions are being found to many of the technological issues that have challenged wave power, the industry is still struggling to justify the investment required compared to the potential electricity generated

There have been many attempts to develop wave energy technology and just as many failures. Its proneness to break down in tough weather conditions was one major issue and if it survived a storm, it did not produce enough electricity to justify its size, weight and costs, says Patrik Möller, CEO at Sweden’s CorPower Ocean, a developer of wave energy converters. The lack of agreement over any kind of standardisation also didn't help. Unlike wind energy technology, where the industry agreed that a wind turbine consisted of a tower, a nacelle and mainly three blades, wave technology has taken on various guises.

Many of these issues remain, but several of the technologies being tested at the moment look “more promising” with the potential to reap energy from the waves and be robust enough to survive a big storm, says Jens Peter Kofoed from Aalborg University, Denmark. He cites CorPower Ocean and Weptos, a Danish developer, as two companies addressing these challenges “without the use of extreme amounts of materials”. CorPower Ocean is preparing a full-scale test of its technology, which it says can survive the toughest weather conditions and produce enough energy to make it profitable. “Structural efficiency in terms of how much energy our customers can produce compared with the tonnes of equipment they need, has improved fivefold,” compared with previous best practice says Möller. ...

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