Ocean Power-World’s First Commercial Wave Generators Now Operating!

Three miles off the coast of Acuadora, Portugal, we find the site of the world’s first commercial wave-generated electric plant. In it’s first stage, the three Pleamis wave energy converters (PWEC) are operational. Each produces 750 kilowatts. Once the entire farm of 25-30 PWECs is complete, it is expected to generate some 25 MegaWatts of clean, Green energy, powering 15,000 households. This will eliminate more than 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The generators, which look like a cross between a submarine and a sea serpent, work by harnessing the energy of the ocean’s waves. The segments move on hinged joints, actuating hydraulic engines which move the generating mechanism. Each is tied in to a cable on the ocean floor, allowing several units to feed into the same electric line. Though some aspects of the manufacturing of the units may not be Green, the harvesting of the tides’ energy certainly seems to be.

Consider this: There are about 6.8 billion people on the planet at this time. In a worst-case scenario, if they had energy consumptions equal to those used in the above projection and there was an average of 3 people per household, 150,000 such completed wave farms could provide clean energy for every household on the planet! Considering that many households include far more than 3 people, it’s realistic to say that, in practice, they’d need between 75,000 and 100,000 such farms, which is even better news! Do we want to cover the planet’s oceans with wave generators? Of course not, but they’re not the only clean, passive harnessing of energy either. Wind farms, photovoltaic and other solar energy solutions will also play their part. What this does clearly demonstrate, though, is that we can have clean power for everyone on the planet, and that’s cause for celebration!

What’s the cost? So far, the combined investment is about 9 million Euros, but that includes R&D costs which would not be required once the generators are being made in quantity. The per unit cost is certain to drop well below 3 million Euros per unit, with each unit powering 500 households. Even at that price, though, it’s still only 6000 euros per household, to provide that household with clean and inexpensive passively generated electricity.

The British Wind Energy Association tells us that wave generators have the ability to displace 1-2 billion tons of CO2 emissions per year from conventional fossil fuel generating sources. The above paragraphs demonstrate that wave farms will be able to do far better than that. The biggest thing to gather from this article? Clean passive energy is not some far off futurescape. It’s possible, within our abilities now!