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What is the context of this research?
- Energy independence, global warming and rising energy prices demand an increase in Renewable Energies (RE).
- Especially on coastlines more energy is needed, due to increasingly global migration towards coastlines.
- Wave Energy compared to other Ocean Energies has the highest RE potential along coastlines (10% of global energy needs).
- Wave Energy Converters are an emerging technology that is compared with the wind turbines 15 years ago when multiple designs were competing until the three blade design converted as the standard design for a full commercial application.
- The main advantage of Wave Energy over Solar and Wind Energy is its high availability, reliability and higher power densities (Solar: 0.3 kW/m2, Wind: 3 kW/m2, Waves: 30 kW/m).
Here at UC Berkeley, we are working on a novel and promising design to harvest Wave Energy economically and reliably.
In our wave tank laboratory, we have developed a proof-of-concept-prototype and have successfully tested the functionality and ability of the converter to cancel waves and generate power.
Our first publication of the concept was in June 2012 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Since then, the concept has generated growing public interest. It was presented at the 10th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference, and has received news coverage in the MIT Technology Review and on physicsworld.com. Most recently, the project took first place at the 2013 BERC Energy Week Innovation Expo.
What is the significance of this project?
Worldwide demand for electricity is expected to double within the next 20 years. This demand, coupled with commitments to signiﬁcantly reduce CO2 emissions within the same time frame, is facilitating the push for clean, socially acceptable methods of generating power.
The concept has been investigated theoretically and numerically for linear and nonlinear regimes. It has undergone extensive experimental study at our wave tank laboratory.
The converter has distinct advantages:
- High survivability - Due to the fact that the carpet is seabed-based, it is able to survive the strong momentum of stormy seas.
- Material Durability - Flexible non-corrosive material.
- Transportability - The system is easily moved and brought to the ocean without requiring high maintenance costs.
- Efficiency - Ability of high, broadband and omnidirectional absorption efficiency based on proven biomimicry from natural phenomenon.
- Scalability - The modular design allows the device to scale in width for setting a desired output power capacity.
- Hazardless - The device poses no visual pollution to the ocean surface and no collision danger to boats and sea life.
What are the goals of the project?
Our long term goal is to tap the abundant and unused resources of ocean wave power in order to contribute to the RE mix and thereby meet the future's growing energy demand in an independent and sustainable manner.
An essential step towards this goal is to fully proof the functionality of a pilot plant in the ocean. The launch is set for 2016 at the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center in Newport, Oregon.
In order to reach this goal, our intermediate steps are to:
- Develop a 1:25 prototype and test its performance in our wave tank laboratory for multi-directional broadband waves.
- Identify and test materials that could perform in real ocean applications.
- Test possible carpet materials for fatigue and creep in simulated ocean conditions.
- Numerically simulate the device to determine optimal stiffness and pump placement.
- Develop and analyse CAD design of full scale converter