Renewable energy: the wave trail

Work conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) with the collaboration of, among others, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the Department of Energy (DOE), suggests that
the production of electricity from waves and ocean currents in the United States could be economically profitable in the near future, of the order of four years, provided that the investments

The principle consists of using the movements of the waves to pressurize a fluid which then makes it possible to produce electricity which is conveyed through an underwater cable.
According to the organization, the potential of the American coast would be 2100 terrawatt-hours per year, almost as much as electricity produced from coal or ten times the total energy generated by the country's hydroelectric plants.

The evaluation is in fact based on an equation J equal to 0,42 x (Hs) exp2 x Tp (in which J is the available energy,
Hs is the significant height of the waves in the location studied and Tp their period during peak height moments), applied to sites for which the parameters have been measured. EPRI obtained its estimates of available capacity by taking into account assumptions about the performance of the capture devices. Currently in the United States, two companies have developed prototypes of energy converters: Ocean Power Technologies (New Jersey), which is deploying its one megawatt PowerBuoy system in Hawaii for the US Navy (commissioning planned for 2006), and the AquaEnergy group, pending federal permits for a test of its AquaBuoy off Washington State.

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However, some are concerned about the apparent unwillingness of the Bush administration to develop this technological solution and fear that the United States is falling behind. And in fact, the first test of connection to an electrical network was carried out in August 2004 on the other side of the Atlantic, in Orkney, in Scotland, using the Pelamis converter of the company Ocean Power Delivery (on which EPRI relied on for its study).

WSJ 08 / 04 / 05 (Ocean power fights current thinking)


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