This technology turns ocean waves into electrical power and fresh drinking water.
Posted by The Huffington Post on Thursday, March 31, 2016
Harnessing wave energy to power our cities could be one part of the holy grail of clean energy production. But it’s also proved devilishly difficult to scale up to a level that’s particularly useful — the scientific consensus is that wave energy lags at least a few decades behind other alternative energy sources like wind or solar. But Western Australia’s Carnegie Energy has a new design that’s exciting, even to us non-scientist wave enthusiasts.
As the video above explains, the Carnegie plan, called CETO, consists of a series of buoys and pumps that are tethered to the ocean floor. When jostled by wave action, the pumps send water through pipes to a land-based turbine system, which produces hydroelectric power. Bonus: the turbines also power desalination filters, producing fresh drinking water. Since everything is underwater, the whole system is invisible, so there’d be little NIMBY complaining about eyesore power stations in the ocean. The buoys also act as artificial reefs, another side bonus. The predictability and regularity of tides and wave action mean that the power produced is essentially endless, if the technology can be scaled up to create financially viable electricity.
Saltwater is devastating to complex machinery, though, so there are significant hurdles in terms of building these things to last. Nevertheless, Carnegie is running a CETO program in Western Australia that’s currently selling power to the Australian government. Who knows, this could be the first step in a clean energy solution brought to you by your favorite natural phenomena.