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  • How generate affordable wave power

    December 12, 2011
    by Daniele Bargellini

    Wave power generator (Copyright Sustainability Ninja)

    Wave power is an intriguing but difficult proposition. It offers a fairly steady source of power that is more regular than many other renewable power systems, but the marine environment is particularly harsh and difficult to work in.

    A number of wave power projects have struggled in the past few years, which shows how difficult this approach can be.

    A mobile wave power generating system proposed by Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation would install wave generators along with banks of storage batteries onto ships or barges for portable wave power generation.

    The ship would go to sea and deploy its generators, and then return back to port and connect its batteries to the grid when it was fully charged.

    Existing ships might be able to be repurposed for use as power stations, rather than requiring that new vessels be built.

    Additionally, while permanently installed wave power systems need to be robust enough to withstand the strongest storms, the mobility of the ship-based system would allow it to be moved back to safety in a harbor when severe weather threatened, which would allow for lighter weight construction.

    The cost of electricity generated in this way has been estimated to be as low as 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, as compared with 30 to 65 cents per kilowatt-hour with other wave power systems.

    There would also be considerably fewer regulatory hurdles that would have to be overcome since the generators would be vessels, rather than permanently installed structures.

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