A relatively new* type of reciprocating wave-powered electricity generator called Searaser has been developed and is moving forward. Searaser, acquired by Ecotricity, is not a typical wave power plant.
The first peculiarity is that it does not generate electricity out at sea. Due to the fact that waves move up and down in the ocean, they can continuously move a float attached to a reciprocating pump that can pump water through a water-powered onshore electricity generator for the sake of keeping the electrical parts of the system out of the water.
As Damian Carrington of The Guardian notes, its is a bit like an aquatic “bicycle pump.”
Searaser Skips the Challenges of Ocean- or Sea-Based Electricity
“If you put any device in the sea, it will get engulfed in storms, so it all has to be totally sealed,” the inventor, Alvin Smith, says. “Water and electricity don’t mix – and sea water is particularly corrosive – so most other devices are very expensive to manufacture and maintain.”
Ecotricity founder, Dale Vince, claims: “We believe Searaser has the potential to produce electricity at a lower cost than any other type energy, not just other forms of renewable energy but all ‘conventional’ forms of energy too.”
A prototype of the Searaser has already been tested successfully.
Where the Idea for Searaser Came From
Smith’s Searaser idea has fun but simple origins, as so many great technologies do. “The idea of Searaser came to Smith when he was playing with a ball in his swimming pool and felt the energy released when the ball bobbed to the surface,” Carrington writes. “He said the device has the advantages of being extremely simple – like a bicycle pump – contains no lubricating or hydraulic oil, and is not a rigid structure and so can go with the flow in heavy seas.”
Another benefit of the system is that the energy produced could be stored in reservoirs and released for later use, helpful given the increasing amount of intermittent renewable energy going on the grid.
Wave-powered generators are a member of the family of hydroelectric power plants, which all use the movement of water to generate electricity. But it’s obviously a bit different than the hydroelectric power technologies you’re used to, isn’t it?
*Note that we first covered this technology in November 2008.
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