Installing an Ocean Powered Electric Generator
Recently one wave energy company, Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) was involved in setting in place one of their ocean powered electric generators off the coast of Scotland. This gigantic clean power generator is now part of a wave farm that will have the capacity to power over 30,000 homes by the year 2018.
Actually, by the time the project is complete, Scotland will be home to the largest wave farm in the world. The European country commands about 10% of the region’s wave power potential, and its intention to make the best of this massive renewable power potential is clearly demonstrated by this large-scale wave power project.
How Ocean Powered Electric Generators Work
Ocean powered electric generators are installed just below the water surface. The generator is held in place by a buoy. This placement allows the generator to catch ocean waves where they are most intense, which helps optimize the system’s power generation capabilities.
The generator has the ability to convert wave energy into affordable clean energy. The power generated is transmitted by underwater cables to the shore and linked to the power grid. The generator relies on a hydroelectric turbine.
Although waves are necessary for generation of power from the ocean, there are some conditions when the waves are too strong and the offshore power station has to be shut down until the weather has passed. For this purpose, the generator is outfitted with sensors that monitor ocean conditions consistently and transmit the data onshore in real time.
If a large wave is anticipated, the power station halts all power production until waves can return to normal once again.
Wave Energy Vs Solar And Wind Energy
Some people think less of the potential for wave power when compared to solar or wind. However, this form of power holds certain benefits over its more popular renewable energy cousins, solar and wind. One benefit wave power has over solar power is that its potential does not suffer when the sun goes down as is the case with solar energy. Additionally, while winds can slow down and result in dips in energy production capacity, wave energy offers much more consistency of the combined energy output. In fact, wave energy is considered the least variable form of renewable energy, and rightly so. This is why wave energy offers such an attractive option as a source of renewable power.
The Company Behind Part Of The Scottish Wave Energy Industry
OPT has been generating scalable ocean powered electric generators for many years. The US company’s signature product is the PowerBuoy, which consists of an electric power generator and other components that make the PowerBuoy a water-based power station. The P150 PowerBuoy deployed off the Scottish coast can generate 150 kW of power at its peak performance.
The Future for Wave Energy
In reality, the wave energy technology is still in its infancy. The projects currently in operation are using technology that barely existed before they were commissioned. However, the World Energy Council estimates that the oceans can supply about 2 terawatts of power, which is about twice the amount of power the world produces at the moment. Countries like Scotland, which also have the good fortune of having some of the best wave power locations in the world, are recognizing and exploiting this massive renewable energy potential. As a matter of fact, the first ocean powered electric generator in the world went online in Scotland in November of 2009.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.