Oceanlinx; another Australian wave power company that uses the floating oil rig as the model for its wave power began installation this month of its last test before grid-connecting a 2.5 MW unit off the coast of Port Kembla, near Sydney.
It should be sending power to the Australian grid early next year. Unusually, for wave power concepts, this converts the energy of ocean swells under the platform into air pressure which turns a wind turbine. The company’s previous demo in 2007 proved it works.
It seems like an odd way to harness the oscillating power of waves; powering a wind turbine on the “oil rig” above. It works by trapping a hollow airspace above the ocean; pushing up into a 100 square metre tunnel in the 500 tonne unit.
As the ocean swells it pushes the air up, forces air through the turbine; generating electricity, and as the wave drops it pulls the air down through the turbine again, once more generating electricity – so it powers the turbine both with the rise and the fall of each wave.
But because of its unique “wind power” approach the moving turbine parts of the Oceanlinx system are mostly above the water, and it uses no hydraulic fluids, so there is nothing to deteriorate in the harsh environment for moving machinery under the sea.
Like most other wave power schemes, this one is scalable and modular, so it could be scaled up to rival the 240 MW La Rance tidal power plant, in France.
Oceanlinx is funded by Sennet Capital in Honolulu, an investment bank that focuses on funding renewable energy developments.
One investor banker at Sennet who likes the Oceanlinx; Karl Stahlkopf, a former VP at the Electric Power Research Institute points out that ”The genius of their approach is that there are no submerged moving parts.”
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