A team of researchers has found that energy produced from the ocean could increase twofold if a new novel method of predicting the power of an incoming wave is used.
Researchers from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and Tel Aviv University in Israel presented their findings in the journal Renewable Energy, finding that they could extract more than double the energy currently generated after determining the oncoming power of the next wave.
There have been many barriers to a greater implementation of marine power as a renewable technology moving forward: experts have stated that the extraction of energy from waves is not up to the same level as that derived from solar or wind; marine energy is not commercially competitive without the inclusion of heavy subsidies; and devices are more often than not damaged by the waves they are trying to harness.
But this new study helps deal with these issues.
“Our research has the potential to make huge advances to the progress of marine renewable energy,” said first author Dr Guang Li of the University of Exeter. “There are significant benefits to wave energy but progressing this technology has proved challenging. This is a major step forward and could help pave the way for wave energy to play a significant role in providing our power.”
The researchers gave point absorbers — floating devices with parts that move in response to waves — the ability to determine the power of the next wave, and respond by extracting the maximum energy. The researchers believe that these point absorbers are more efficient in the quantity of energy they can produce if their response closely matches the force of the waves.
Developing a system that would give the device the ability to extract the maximum amount of energy from each and every wave, simply by predicting the power of the wave, allowed for greater efficiency, as well as minimizing the opportunities for the device to be damaged, as it would respond appropriately to damaging waves.
An unexpected upshot of this is that such devices would not need to be turned off during heavy weather.
“The next step is for us to see how effective this approach could be at a large scale, by testing it in farms of wave energy converters,” concluded co-author Dr Markus Mueller of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus.
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