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Ecotricity Backs New Technology to Harness Wave Energy

| Monday February 20th, 2012 | 0 Comments

Wave power is an untapped source of renewable energy. There are several complications with using this type of energy successfully, and the most obvious of which is how to harness it. Ecotricity has now teamed up with Searaser, which has the capability to harness the oceans’ power.

According to Ecotricity, Searaser is the latest in harnessing wave energy and was invented with a Devon-based engineer. The device is attached to the sea floor using a flexible harness, allowing it to bobble with the motion of the ocean.

The Searaser also contains a pump that rises and falls on waves. At the prototype stage, it could successfully pump water a 160 foot hill through a pipe. A full-sized unit could potentially generate about 0.25 MW of energy. 

According to Ecotricity: “Most existing wave technologies generate electricity in the ocean environment. But as we know water and electricity don’t mix – and seawater is particularly corrosive – so most other devices are very expensive to manufacture and maintain. But Searaser doesn’t generate the electricity in the water. It simply uses the almost constant motion of the ocean swell to drive seawater through an onshore turbine. Searaser pumps seawater using a vertical piston between two buoys – one on the surface of the water – the other suspended underwater and tethered to a weight on the seabed. As the ocean swell moves, the buoys move up-and-down and the piston pumps pressurised seawater through pipes to an onshore turbine. This produces electricity. Searaser units could also supply energy on-demand by pumping seawater into a coastal reservoir, with a hydropower turbine, solving renewable energy’s problem of fluctuating output.

The technology sounds dubiously simple, but the concept of generating electricity on land rather than in the water might  overcome the barriers that have been faced so far. It will be exciting to see how it works out upon field installations. Along with the partnership between Ecotricity and Searaser, Ecotricity recently announced that the Searaser will be ready for commercial use within 12 months and the British coastline could see about 200 Searaser units in five years.

Although it appears a little premature to make the claim, Ecotricity has a strong track record of accurately backing new energy trends. If this works out, renewable energy may be entering into a new frontier of insofar untapped potential.

Image Credit: Ecotricity/Searaser ©


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