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Finavera Renewables Successfully Deploys and Commissions AquaBuOY 2.0 Wave Energy Converter

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US wave energy resources. Click to enlarge. Source: EPRI

Finavera Renewables Inc. has deployed and commissioned the AquaBuOY 2.0 wave energy converter off the coast of Newport, Oregon. This marks the first installation of a wave energy converter of this scale off the west coast of North America and moves the company closer to achieving its goal of commercial electricity generation from ocean waves by 2010.

The total incident wave energy flux into the US is approximately 2,100 TWh/yr—about 50% of the total electricity generation in the US in 2006 of 4,254 TWh (BP Stat Review 2007)—and is thus a significant potential resource, according to a 2004 assessment by EPRI, the Electric Power Research Institute.

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Annual average wave energy flux per unit width of wave crest (kW/m). Click to enlarge. Source: Finavera

The AquaBuOY is a floating buoy structure that converts the kinetic energy of the vertical motion of oncoming waves into electricity. The AquaBuOY is categorized as a point absorber—having a small dimension in relation to the longer wave length in which it is operating. It utilizes a cylindrical buoy as the displacer and the reactor is a large water mass enclosed by a long vertical tube underneath the buoy.

Other wave energy conversion technologies include oscillating water column, overtopping, and attenuator systems.

Finavera1
The AquaBuOY.

The AquaBuOY Consists of four elements: buoy; acceleration tube; piston; and hose pump. The acceleration tube, the piston, and the hose pumps constitute the Power Take Off system (PTO).

Movement of the piston within the hollow, open acceleration tube extends or compresses the hose-pumps. A hose-pump is a steel reinforced rubber hose whose internal volume is reduced when the hose is stretched, thereby acting as a pump. Pressurized sea water is expelled into a high-pressure accumulator, and in turn fed to a turbine which drives a generator.

The AquaBuOY 2.0 is situated approximately two and a half miles off the coast of Newport, Oregon. Over the next several weeks, Finavera Renewables will test and analyze the performance of the  components and monitor the hydraulic power output. During this phase, all onboard diagnostic equipment will be powered by an onboard Pelton turbine as well as solar panels and small wind turbines installed on the device. Data is being streamed live via wireless and satellite technology for analysis. This test data will be used for the next design iteration of the wave energy converter, with an anticipated deployment in 2008.

The Company is advancing along its project development plan with the phased installation of a multi-device wave park and commercial electricity generation by 2010. The Company currently has wave energy projects totaling more than 250 megawatts (MW) planned or under development on the west coast of North America.

Resources:

Comments

Ben

One of the biggest advantages of wave and sea current generators is their ability to be nearly or completely out of site, no complaining from the NIMBY crowded.

Jim

Agree. Wave energy can provide almost constant power versus intermittent power from wind or sun.

Ben

It depends sometimes the seas are flat. Under sea currents and tidal flows in and out of bays are almost constant though.

TheGiant

I wonder what we're affecting by tinkering with the sea

Rafael Seidl

@ Ben -

I think fishermen might have a problem with these if they were deployed in large numbers over a wide area. I doubt that's going to happen, though - the cost would be very high.

Ben

Rafael Seidl,

The material cost for these in theory would be less then building wind farms. As for fishermen, well there will always be someone complaining, its just wave farms won't be an eye sour from the shore view mansions of US senators who have the power to ultrab**** (reference to Cape Wind)

Ben

for those that want to see how it works:
http://www.leonardo-energy.org/drupal/node/1906

AES

Overall I'm a big supporter of this kind of renewable energy. This is an interesting alternative to tidal power.

My major concern with this is what will happen during major storms. Will these buoys stay in place, or will they be swept away? They don't sound like a choice for Hurricane Alley.

mahonj

These things are never as easy as they look, but there is a lot of wave energy out there and it does not correlate with wind or solar.
There will be environmental costs (like wind), but there may well be cases where it is worth doing it.
If you look at the map, there seems to be a lot available on the coast of western europe.

I wonder how long it will take to get a design which really works and how long to scale it up ?

Wind looks pretty good, now, but it has taken 25 years.

It sounds like a good reason to spend a few million Euros of EU taxpayer money.

As it stands, you probably need nuclear to get CO2 free electricity - if you want to avoid this, you better start investing in wind research.

eric

There seem to be a lot of different designs with a lot of individual variations, each with different plusses and minuses. Another one I just found is this one from Australia:

http://www.ceto.com.au/ceto-technology/wave-farms.php

which uses the buoys to pressurize seawater, and it is then piped onshore to the generating equipment. As a side-benefit, the same pressurized seawater can be used with reverse-osmosis filters to desalinate seawater without any other external energy sources.

Another company is this one:

http://www.oceanpd.com/default.html

which has long sausage-shaped buoys that generate electricity as the things flex with the waves.

Ben

http://hydropower.id.doe.gov/hydrokinetic_wave/pdfs/day1/01_overview.pdf
Here a good overview of the technology. I don't think it going to take 25 years for sea water power to develop, the main factor that cause wind it slows development was lack of economical viability, now that energy prices and demand for renewable are high, new renewable technologies are likely to develop far more rapidly.

Clean energy could develop much faster when dirty energy sources (fossil fuel) are taxed for the all the nasty pollution they create or when producers decide to increase the price to $100+ a barrel.

Clean energy diversification could be very positive to increase the total market share and reduce reliance on fossil fuels and agricultural feedstocks.

eric


The other thing is that many other countries in the world aren't sitting on coal reserves, so there is a lot more incentive to fully develop these technologies overseas than there is here in the USA. The same type of logic applies to the development of Concentrating Solar Power.

I suppose that means that we will be able to buy it after it has been developed, but it would also imply that the USA would lose even more technological leadership, and we will be reduced to licensing and buying it from other countries.

mds

These buoys will be deployed a significant distant from shore. Think they will be difficult to see in calm seas because of curvature of the earth, unless you are at some height on shore. If you are up high you may be able to see them even in rough seas. Still, they will also be a fraction the size of offshore windmills.

Making these buoys last in the open sea should not be rocket science when NOAH already has navigation buoys in similar areas. Can't speak for Hurricane Alley, though.

Pumping of salt water does make me wonder about possible problems with bio-fouling. (i.e. problems with growth of marine seaweed, barnacles, etc.)

On negative impact:
Impact on wave height is not very great.
http://thefraserdomain.typepad.com/energy/2007/04/surfers_make_wa.html (First objections to wave energy, up to 11% reduction in wave size – April 2007 news - This was based on theoretical prediction.)
http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=12499&ref=rss
http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story;jsessionid=03558003972C0391E336945B97DE2E99?id=48315 Independent study, less effect – April 2007.
“concluded that the impact on wave height would be less than five percent -- or less than five centimeters off a meter-high wave” (This was measured.)

On positive environmental impact:
Wave energy is may be the only form of energy production that has a positive environmental impact.
In Hawaii they have Fish Attraction Devices (FADs) which are nothing more than anchored ocean buoys. They are put in to attract ocean fish for the fishermen. Also, there are fish preserve areas in USA waters. If these Wave Buoys are sighted so as not to interfere with commercial fishing grounds then they could be of benefit to coastal fishes and other forms of marine life. In Oregon, they have supposedly consulted with the commercial fisherman when choosing their site.

gr

Good to see more ocean energy players coming online. Plenty of potential here for new technology, jobs, and lower expectations from wind/solar alone. Wave energy capture will be an important contributor to the overall transition away from fossil fuels. Far better and less costly than Cape Wind type projects.

Ben

gr,

Cape wind it not a bad thing, it is just these NIMBYs are so annoying. I figure if the NIMBYs can't see it they won't complain.

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