Wave Forecasts Can Significantly Improve Energy from the Seas
Wave energy is perhaps one of the lesser known types of renewable energy but this does not mean that it does not hold great potential. The potential production of sea-based energy is something that simply cannot be missed and, already, there are ongoing pilot projects around the world that would prove its economic potential.
But as far as average power output goes there are still of course technical limitations to sea-based energy production. Though at a lower degree than wind and solar energy, wave power still suffers a bit from the common issue of intermittency. It is after all, not entirely like freefall/gravity based hydroelectric energy, and waves can appear in various sizes and intensities.
Is it even possible though to maximize the energy derived from these random waves? One suggestion says yes, and this involves the accurate energy intensity prediction of incoming waves.
A Wave Energy Converter (WEC), as its name suggests, is a device that can convert ocean waves into usable energy. The method that it uses to collect energy varies depending on the type and design, although most of them commonly use the relative motion that the wave causes to the device. Though it can be made to sufficiently produce power, the intermittency issue mentioned earlier places a hurdle on its maximum efficiency. In addition, stronger waves and winds might destroy the device completely.
Professor George Weiss of Tel Aviv University’s School of Electrical Engineering and Center for Renewable Energy now works with a team at UK’s University of Exeter to solve this problem. The solution that they had in mind was to use a special control algorithm. It is a system that would allow a Wave Energy Converter to actively calculate the amount of force required to extract the maximum amount of energy for a certain ocean wave.
A WEC designed with the algorithm in use can still work normally like any other converter. It would have a fixed lower part, and a freely moving upper section that bobs up and down as ocean waves pass. But with a significantly strong wave, the control algorithm can adjust its level of structural rigidity accordingly, helping the WEC absorb most of the energy while protecting it from damage at the same time.
The control algorithm would be run by a processor that is attached to the WEC. It would also serve as an incoming alert sensor and would refresh at least five times per second to correctly determine the adjustments needed for the incoming wave. This means that it would update information regularly and continuously at each moment to optimize wave energy output.
Prof. Weiss and his researchers have done numerous simulations in order to test the efficiency of the algorithm. They found out that not only was energy extraction efficiency improved, but the potential output power was actually doubled. Energy collection was increased by 100%, more than what a WEC would have collected without using the algorithm.
Whether the simulation data would prove to be true in the real world is still up for testing. But there’s one thing we do know, and that is the growing economic interest for wave power as evidenced by this new innovation. As quoted by the original report, “There is a lot of untapped energy in the ocean”.
Reasons to JOIN US include:
- It's absolutely FREE!
- Get Green Tips You MUST know about.
- How to's on going green, saving money, and having fun.
- Keep up-to-date on our posts in cased you missed them.