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Power Science Technology

Wave Powered Generator to Power Homes 258

Posted by Zonk
from the makers-of-the-burns-omni-net dept.
Eh-Wire writes "A Scottish company, Ocean Power Delivery (OPD) and it's Norwegian backer, Norsk hydro are set install three wave powered generators 3.5 miles off the north coast of Portugal for the Portuguese renewable energy group Enersis. This will be the world's first commercial wave powered generating system. Providing the initial three generators perform as expected, an additional thirty wave powered generators will be installed by the end of 2006. It's estimated the wave powered generator farm will displace 6000 tonnes of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted from conventional electrical generating plants."
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Wave Powered Generator to Power Homes

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  • In Mexico.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kinky Bass Junk (880011) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @06:35AM (#12597954)
    ... a similar system was in place, however the locals misinterpreted it and put it in the middle of a football field.
  • Wave hello (Score:5, Informative)

    by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday May 21, 2005 @06:46AM (#12597982) Journal
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/354882 0.stm [bbc.co.uk] ive read a few other reports on the matter, At the current rate of progression it was noted that we would only have 10% of the power from renewable energy by 2020, However i have read a few reports that were speculating that wave generators set up around Scotland could provide 20-25% of Europes power needs.
    If this is so , then it would definantly be a great source of commerce for the region.
    Not to mention the positive effect on the enviroment ,.
    Yet this will be stiffeld at every turn by the conglomerats who make a fair bit out of natural resource based fuels .

    In the region of Germany i am currently , i belive a large percentage of the enegry is derived from wind power(a commen sight when driving around here are collections of wind turbines) , If other countrys were to take on schemes such as these we could cut emmison levels by massive ammounts.
    This wont hapen though , as oil(coal gas etc) is money and money is power , so untill the well drys up there will be little done about it , bar experiments.
    • Re:Wave hello (Score:2, Informative)

      by /ASCII (86998)
      Yay, another conspiracy theory, this time from someone with the nick FidelCatsro... I think I can guess who's KoolAid you've been sipping.

      These 'conglomerats' you talk of are just regular corporations, no more scary than Microsoft. Like Microsoft they play rough and they break laws if the incentive is high enough, but if wave energy ever gets to the point where it is an economically sound investment, it _will_ get used. No amount of FUD from the 'evil' Arab oil conglomerat or the 'evil' US oil companies ca
      • Re:Wave hello (Score:5, Informative)

        by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday May 21, 2005 @07:40AM (#12598101) Journal
        Actualy in germany in 2004 it was roughly 9.4% of the power consumed was garnerd from wind power
        http://www.climateark.org/articles/reader.asp?link id=39367 [climateark.org]
        Its not a conspiracy theory its a fact of the matter , It will be replaced eventualy but right now too many jobs and natural resource earnings would be at stake for countrys to consider ditching it right now

        Conglomorates its the right word though (A corporation made up of a number of different companies that operate in diversified fields.) most of them do have stakes in several sectors ,if you look into the various fields companys such as shell , BP and Texaco operate ..
        • Re:Wave hello (Score:5, Informative)

          by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday May 21, 2005 @07:46AM (#12598121) Journal
          To back that up a little , I lived most of my life in Aberdeen Scotland which is the Oil captiol of Europe, a hell of alot of jobs around the region are intertwined with the oil rigging industry and the other sectors of the oil field.
          If Aberdeen were to lose those jobs instantly it would be a massive blow and the same for many other areas and regions throught the world , we can't simply just switch from oil and natural fosil fuels , it needs to be slowly introduced to build up the new industrys or we could be see wide spread global reccesions for a number of years , as oil brings in a hell of alot of money
          • And why on earth _should_ we kill the oil industry overnight when a better source of energy arrives? The investment in the infrastructure is already made, both money-wise and environment-wise. Not only would it be economically unsound to just throw away billions worth of investments in oil infrastructure, it would be a major blow to the environment, since building enough wave powered power plants to supply the world with all the power we nned would be very taxing for the environment. The best solution both
        • I'm sorry, but I find your post very funny. You link to a site that contradicts your own statments. Not only does the site you link to state that the number is 9.3%, not 'roughly 9.4%' (While this is a minor difference, it just goes to show how cerfully you read things), that number is the percentage of energy from 'Wind, hydro and other renewable plants'. According to the poster right above you, you are off by nearly a factor of two. In computer science this may not be much, but in economy, an error facto

        • ...too many jobs and natural resource earnings would be at stake for countrys to consider ditching it right now

          Isn't that the same reason that the variuos ridiculous income (and other) tax codes never get simplified?

          Just imagine the horror of unemployed accountants ravaging the countryside, it'd be like that movie where people get turned into zombies and then the *real* zombies would get pissed-off cause it'd cut into their domination of the zombie market. Well, OK, maybe I'm hyperbolizing - zombie ac
        • I phrased that badly i appoligise for the disinfo ,I was rather distracted at the time ,
          It should read 9.3% of the power consumed was garnerd from wind and other natural power .
          to quote the wikipedia artical though
          "Wind accounts for only 0.4% of the total electricity production on a global scale (2002). Germany is the leading producer of wind power with 35% of the total world capacity in 2005 (10% of German electricity)"
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power [wikipedia.org] I can see where my i made the mistake , i was r
    • In the region of Germany i am currently , i belive a large percentage of the enegry is derived from wind power(a commen sight when driving around here are collections of wind turbines)

      Which region are you in? I know that according to the 1998 Landesraumordnungsplan for Schleswig-Holstein the goal is that by the year 2010 25% of the energy supply there should be produced by wind energy.

      I think wind power definitely has a lot of potential, and it is pleasing to see that quite a number of countries are

  • by xonen (774419) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @06:47AM (#12597986) Journal
    The European Union requires 22 percent of electricity consumption to come from renewable energy sources -- such as solar, wind and wave -- by 2010.

    i did not know that fact, thought it was 8%-10%, but it's a good goal, although i doubt it will be reached. there is lot of opposition to 'conventional' methods of renewable energy, like wind energy.
    here in holland (a windy place) people think they're ugly, noisy and potentionally dangerous. and the same environmental groups that dislikes carbondioxide and nuclear energy als dislike the fact birds may fly into those things. for long time, people have suggested off-shore solutions, like off-shore windmill parks.. but they're expensive.
    so, i find it aprticulair interesting that a country like portughal pioneers in those steps, instead of 'hi-tec' countries like holland, germany or france.
    guess it's just a matter of oil prices to raise more, so alternative power sources automatically gets economical benefits. after all, the techniques are there, short-view economics and lack of vision is keeping those from being implemented.
    • by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday May 21, 2005 @06:56AM (#12598005) Journal
      The enviromental extremest(I am very much an enviromentalist , but am pragmatic about it) will find any reason to complain , we have heaps of them here in Germany , I often drive past them (well im a passenger) And have never once seen a dead bird laying around at the bottom of them , they are hardly noisy atall and generaly not that much of an eye sore(i kind of like them ).
      Its rather insulting to the inteligence of birds , i have yet to see one study that can confirm birds would be that prone to flying into them , People seem to prefer irrational fear to logic .
      • by ProfaneBaby (821276) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @07:17AM (#12598044)
        http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-01-04-win dmills-usat_x.htm [usatoday.com]


        After years of study but little progress reducing bird kills, environmentalists have sued to force turbine owners to take tough corrective measures. The companies, at risk of federal prosecution, say they see the need to protect birds. "Once we finally realized that this issue was really serious, that we had to solve it to move forward, we got religion," says George Hardie, president of G3 Energy.

        The size of the annual body count -- conservatively put at 4,700 birds -- is unique to this sprawling, 50-square-mile site in the Diablo Mountains between San Francisco and the agricultural Central Valley because it spans an international migratory bird route regulated by the federal government. The low mountains are home to the world's highest density of nesting golden eagles.


        It certainly seems to be a limited problem. The question, then, is whether or not you can find a safe alternative, or if you define an 'accepted' loss and work to stay within that realm.

        In California (which also has a 20% by 2010 law), these wind turbines are going up ALL OVER - especially in a lot of the passes leading from the coastal valleys into the inner valleys. Some of the windier passes happen to be the same passes that birds use for migration, which is causing a lot of the complaints. Not all of the passes are on migration routes - the corridor along I-10 through Palm Springs has one of the largest installations, and hasn't been subject to many complaints at all, as the number of birds (population density, I suppose) in that area isn't nearly as high as in the coastal regions.

        • I like to look at it in a darwinian sense , if these birds are stupid enough to fly into wind turbines then perhaps its natural selection.Though even then it is a very minor risk of it happening atall , unless as you say they are planted in migration routes.
          Then that is perhaps a little cruel , they will need to devise some form of scare-crow to ward off the birds.
          ofcourse they will need to do it without making the plants eye-sores and making them confusing to air crafts in the dark (a line of these with f
          • The light on landing strips is a specific colour, just as the lights on parts of planes are different colours (i cant remember which color for which part though)

            all this would need is a colour which is not used by anything else (blue??).
        • It may be measured and calculated how many birds got killed by those things.

          But at the same time, we forget to calculate the number of animals getting killed by not doing so. Climate changes already lead to the extinsion of several species, the petrochemical industry is far from being environmental friendly. All kinds of indirect effects are not calculated, 'just' to safe a few hundred birds.
          And, if animals aren't important enough (...) in holland it is calculated that fine dust, mainly from traffic, r
        • Cat power? (Score:4, Funny)

          by wytcld (179112) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @08:44AM (#12598362) Homepage
          Domestic cats kill millions of birds annually. Windows kill many thousands of birds who fly into them. Animal-loving environmentalists often keep cats, and live in dwellings with windows, so they can gaze out at their beloved nature. Homes without windows would be more energy-efficient. Perhaps we can harness cats for energy, but they sleep 16 hours a day.
          • by xant (99438) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @01:47PM (#12599760) Homepage
            You just burn them, like any fuel source. ;-)
            • But has the EPA approved a design for an ultra high temperature and pressure quintuple filtured cat burning power station that emits no harmful chemicals?
          • Although cat power seems at first to be a workable solution to our growing needs, extensive studies have shown that the storage of waste from such a system is almost an insurmountable problem. From whence would come all the kitty litter needed to generate power on such a grand scale? Some conspiracy theorists contend that this is the true purpose behind Bush's invasion in the Middle East, not for the oil but for the sand. Time will tell if there is any truth to these allegations but for now cat generated po
          • The other day I saw a bird which almost got killed from flying into a window. Fortunately it was still able to fly, although it picked a bad destination:


            Back into the window
        • It's obvious nobody wants to chop wild birds up with fans and building a wind farm on a migration route was probably what nobody intended. Wind farms like this are new on a large sacle so things are going to go wrong and people will find fault where they look for it.

          The greens, the govt and energy companies need to come to more scientific and socially acceptable compromises such as the the one in TFA. The fact is if we keep up the status-quo of burning fossil fuels until the birds start dropping out of t
      • by Tim C (15259) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @08:40AM (#12598352)
        The enviromental extremest... will find any reason to complain , we have heaps of them here in Germany , I often drive past them. And have never once seen a dead bird laying around at the bottom of them , they are hardly noisy atall and generaly not that much of an eye sore

        Oh I don't know, the really extreme ones can be pretty vocal and I've known a few that weren't exactly pleasing on the eye. They don't generally kill very many birds though, I'll give you that...
      • ...have never once seen a dead bird laying around at the bottom of them...

        This is a pretty common/bad metric to go by. You need to remember that any dead birds lying about a wind farm will quickly be collected by other predators.

        I do agree with your overall point of view of these things not being a major bird risk -- if birds can manage to navigate a tree with swaying branches on a windy day I'm sure they can handle a wind turbine.

    • What people her (holland) think about windmills may have little to do with reality. Because windfarms have to be huge, they are visible. Most people perfer to think of the countryside as 'unspoilt nature' although there is no nartural piece of wilderness left in the netherlands. (don't point at all the little pieces of nature reserves here and there: if you need someone to maintain it, and it was created a few decades ago, it is a garden, not 'wilderness'). Everything else is manmade too, but windfarms stan
    • dislike the fact birds may fly into those things.

      Yeah, I'm totally with them!

      .. not to mention, think of all the birds that keep flying into those trees I see everywhere!

  • Plus ca change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kiore (734594) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @06:51AM (#12597993) Homepage Journal
    The artificial power sources that led to the first wave (no pun intended) of industralisation were water power ... in the form of mills driven by waterwheels trapping river power.

    Then we had steam, and burned fossil fuels to make it. Tearing up the ground, polluting the air, the water, and eventually damaging our whole world.

    Finally we return to extracting energy from water. No compaints from me on that score.

    • Re:Plus ca change (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FidelCatsro (861135)
      http://www.industcards.com/hydro-scotland.htm [industcards.com]
      Hydro has been one of the main sources of power in scotland since 1930s (some really wonderfull damms with great architecture) , I used to visit them alot when i was younger , a real majesty about them.
      the planet is mostly water anyway and with the power of tides and gravity , if we put effort into it i am fairly sure we could get nearly all of our energy needs from water . only problem is that their is little money to get out of it compared to drilling for oil.
  • by oren (78897) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @07:07AM (#12598025)
    Are available at the company's site [oceanpd.com]. Flash animation of how the system works can be found here [oceanpd.com].

    From their site:

    A typical 30MW installation would occupy a square kilometre of ocean and provide sufficient electricity for 20,000 homes. Twenty of these farms could power a city such as Edinburgh.

    And:

    The 750kw full-scale prototype is 120m long and 3.5m in diameter...

    So this isn't very different from the power density of, say, wind turbines. It has the advantage that you can locate the 40,000 12m long 3.5m diameter devices - not to mention X00,000 anchoring cables - out of sight in the ocean, instead on the top of ridges where they stick out like sore thumbs and chop the occasional bird migration.

    Still, you'd need something lime X000 km^2 to provide all of the UK's electricity this way. With that amount, people will start complaining. Also, their site gives no estimation of cost per kw. A salt ocean with high waves is a very machine-hostile environment, so these devices will have a very finite life time, and at the sizes they give, they are anything but cheap.

    So while this is very clever, and nice, it doesn't get us off the hook for a sustainable energy source. Floating nuclear plants, now - that's a thought. Its the ultimate in "not in my back yard". :-)
    • Still, you'd need something lime X000 km^2 to provide all of the UK's electricity this way. With that amount, people will start complaining. Also, their site gives no estimation of cost per kw. A salt ocean with high waves is a very machine-hostile environment, so these devices will have a very finite life time, and at the sizes they give, they are anything but cheap.

      It looks like you where headed down the same direction I was when I first read this. Please someone tell me I'm missing something here be

    • by Tim C (15259) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @08:28AM (#12598300)
      Still, you'd need something lime X000 km^2 to provide all of the UK's electricity this way.

      So don't try to produce it all using this, just produce some of it.

      Anything that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, even a little, has to be a good thing.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      EPRI released a series of reports on economics of ocean wave energy conversion recently. The lifetime average cost of electriciy using Pelamis devices ranged from 9 - 10 cents/kwh in good US sites (but in Maine, 32 c/kwh since the waves suck). That includes millions of dollars in maintenance, overhauls, full-time ship & crew to service them (so it's a realistic number). Here is the final summary report, where you can read it yourself:

      http://www.epri.com/attachments/297213_009_Final_R eport_RB_01-14-0 [epri.com]
  • How it works (Score:4, Informative)

    by dos_dude (521098) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @07:07AM (#12598026) Homepage

    A little more detail about how that stuff works wouldn't have hurt in that story.

    Ocean Power Delivery Limited has a website [oceanpd.com]! And they have a nice little Flash animation that explains those sausages [oceanpd.com].

  • by rduke15 (721841) <rduke15@nospAm.gmail.com> on Saturday May 21, 2005 @07:12AM (#12598037)
    Might be an interesting alternative to tidal power [wikipedia.org], when tides are not strong enough. But I couldn't find much technical information on it.

    As for tidal power itself, maybe it's worth noting here that it has been in use for quite some time, even though at only few places. The largest is the 240 Megawatts plant in La Rance in France [strath.ac.uk].

    In Northern Ameria, there is The Annapolis Tidal Generating Station [annapolisbasin.com].


    • This is from the country that clubs to death cute, fuzzy baby seals with their pleading, emotive eyes on a regular basis. Canadians are secretly evil.

      http://www.nspower.ca/AboutUs/WhatsNew/WhalePre s sReleases.html

      On Aug. 30-31, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in collaboration with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) broadcast the sound of feeding humpback whale vocalizations in waters on both sides of the sluice gates in hopes this would coax the whale into returning to the Anna
  • A Scottish company, Ocean Power Delivery (OPD) and it's Norwegian backer
    Editor's: Im glad to see that youre capable of correcting the posters use of apostrophe's. Its too much to assume that the poster's would get thei'r grammars right anyway.
  • environmental impact (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Senor_Programmer (876714) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @07:20AM (#12598050)
    anything one does to extract energy affects the environment. wind farms and nuclear plants change local micro-climates. i'm curious as to what, if any modeling has been done for 'sausage' farms.

    as an aside, these things are certain to confuse and confound first time extra-solar visitors.

    EU is proceeding, along with Japan, with a test bed for materials to be used in nuclear fusion reactor, if they ever sort out where it's gonna go. In the mean time, IMO, the best thing that could happen for 'clean' power would be a global standard fission plant along with a set of standards for site requirements. Cookie cutter fission plants would make nuclear power much more affordable. As for nuclear waste, IMO it's pretty arrogant to think we'll be around 50k years from now, while at the same time not being clever enough to figure out how to handle the waste by the time the 50k year countdown ends...
    • I think it's pretty arrogant to think that "we'll always come up with a solution later. We're clever enough".
    • IMO, the best thing that could happen for 'clean' power would be a global standard fission plant

      We've still got a long way to go before that will be possible - maybe pebble bed will be cheap enough?

      Fission is still a very expensive way to boil water, and in most cases is just there as the peaceful side of the bomb. There are exceptions, Japan has it as insurance against losing their imported supply of coal and oil, and pebble bed may just be the first nuclear technology that will be cost effective vs fo

    • As for nuclear waste, IMO it's pretty arrogant to think we'll be around 50k years from now, while at the same time not being clever enough to figure out how to handle the waste by the time the 50k year countdown ends...

      What? Nuclear waste is a problem *today*, and *every* day until sufficient time has passed that it's no longer a danger.

      Depending on the isotopes, it won't *be* a problem in 50k years. I think you've got it the wrong way round...
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @07:22AM (#12598054)
    They are always waving. The Queens waves are a bit feeble though, dunno if I would want her powering the electric shower in the morning.

  • That reminds me; why is tidal power not more widely used? Building islands [nationmaster.com] is expensive but if the long term results are positive, why not?
  • North coast? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by teh kurisu (701097) on Saturday May 21, 2005 @10:19AM (#12598676) Homepage

    This had me checking the calendar to see if it was the 1st of April, and then a map to confirm my suspicions (and check that nothing had changed drastically since the last time I looked).

    I believe I'm correct in stating that Portugal doesn't actually have a North coast.

    • Your memory of the geography of Portugal [cia.gov] is correct. "North coast" is referring to the northern end of its long western coast, not a northern (i.e., north-facing) coast. Isn't English a marvelously concise language sometimes?
  • Not the web kind? The real ocean kind, like Gidget.

    How are the Portugese long boarders going to hang ten, dude, if the wave energy is used to make electricity? I'd rather have brown sunsets from the power plants than give up some good waves!
  • by blakestah (91866) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Saturday May 21, 2005 @12:57PM (#12599500) Homepage
    These pods are a little under 500 feet long. That means they will be selective for some period of waves energy, with a peak in the 13-14 second wave period band (see wavelength chart at http://www.blakestah.com/surf/oldprediction.html [blakestah.com]). It will also have limited response at fundamentals - longer wavelengths - because these sausages are linked.

    There's a problem in this. First of all, the little crappy windchop that surfers hate is in the short period bands, 5-8 seconds or so. And these pods will not suck off any of that energy - the chop will go right on through. Whereas the surfable energy - the long period stuff, will be knocked down substantially. Not good. Also, the bulk of the ocean's wave energy is in this chop. So they are throwing out the baby to drink the bathwater.

    They need to redesign it to not have any selectivity for periods over 10 seconds - or wavelengths over 100 meters. Take the bulk of the energy, sap it out, and make the oceans smooth and glassy while the long period waves cruise on through and generate stoke for surfers worldwide.

    The pod design is really cool. There are a few things they could do to gear it up also - like load the bulk of the weight and volume at the links to maximize leverage, and broaden the aspect ratio closer to 0.5...I'm envisioning links 10m long and 5m wide with never more than 5 connected serially. That saps the oceans of the wind chop, while leaving the longer period surf (which is more rare anyway) alone. Smaller, easier to deploy (and replace) units, which a physical design using more leverage. And surfing would actually benefit from such a change.

  • 3 waveplants cost $10M; 30 generate 20MW; a home needs an average maximum 5KW: that's $25K:home. How much do biodiesel plants and farms cost per watt?
    • 5KW's? That's ridiculus. I live in an apartment and essentially the only thing I use a significant amount of power on is my fridge and my computer. I'm always amazed when I visit someone's house, I look up at the ceiling and notice 10, 60w light bulbs, a couple 100W halogen's just lighting up the ceiling, etc. And that's just a couple rooms. You can light up an entire house on less than 100W if you switch to flourencent. And people also do stupid things like leave their computer on 24 hours a day.

      It's no w
      • It's ridiculous that you think you're average. Where's the heating and air conditioning? Where's the other people living in the house? People want to do things, and that takes energy - like drive the 80KW engines in our cars, which dwarf our houses consumption, even when we carpool. Or live in more conservative places, like New York City, where our density brings our homes closer to 2KW. But we're not going to stop doing things, like leaving our computers on all the time, which enables an info lifestyle. Wh
        • I'm not saying I'm average. I'm just saying that older technologies like incadescent bulbs waste a whole lot of electricity unnecessarily.

          And what is the point of leaving your computer on if you are at work or sleeping? That's 400Watts * 16 hours. Complete waste. I do use my AC in the summer, but I try to use fans when practical.

          I was also talking about electricity consumption, which is completely different from gasoline which is non renewable. We would probably have to more than double our electrical cap
          • So we should live under flourescent lights and nuclear plants? How about power conservation tech, for computers that sleep when they're not actively processing (like mine, and millions of others with notebooks)? How about biodiesel farms, a truly renewable resource (unlike nuclear)?

            The key to sustainable energy consumption is marketing it. Building conservation into the consuming tech makes that literally a no-brainer. But we have to think about the best alternatives, targeting actual adoption by billions
          • And what is the point of leaving your computer on if you are at work or sleeping?

            Bittorrent.

            - I.V.


  • Wind power is a technological fix for a political problem... So is wave power

    George Monbiot [monbiot.com] in this article writes: [monbiot.com]

    Wind farms, while necessary, are a classic example of what environmentalists call an "end of the pipe solution." Instead of tackling the problem - our massive demand for energy - at source, they provide less damaging means of accommodating it. Or part of it.

    The Whinash project, by replacing energy generation from power stations burning fossil fuel, will reduce carbon dioxide emiss

Prototype designs always work. -- Don Vonada

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