A UK engineer has invented a device that harnesses wave power to pump sea water uphill, from where it can flow downhill to create hydroelectricity, raising hopes of a cheap, abundant source of renewable energy.
In trials, the device, called the Searaser, has pumped water more than 160ft above sea level, using little more than the natural motion of the waves. There are now plans for a much larger version, capable of pumping to a height of more than 650ft.
Inventor Alvin Smith reckons that each full-size device would be able to pump enough water to supply electricity to 470 homes. He also calculates that a fleet of 43,000 could generate enough power for a staggering 20 million households.
According to Smith, one of the major advantages of the method is that the turbines that would be used to generate electricity are a proven and reliable technology that has been in use for years in hydroelectric installations in hilly areas, where water can be held in reservoirs.
The Searaser is currently undergoing a six month trial (video) prior to commercial production. Once this is over, we might be getting used to the sight of flotilla’s of these ingenious devices bobbing up and down all around the UK coast, or further out to sea. If the relatively cheap, simple invention can be shown to work effectively alongside a dependable hydroelectric system on a large enough scale, it might just be possible that the approach could be taken up elsewhere around the world too.
Image Credit – Dartmouth Wave Energy
Andrew is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.