Hydro power is the use of water to produce power and traditionally, this has been done with the use of rivers by harnessing the power of their currents. This technology has worked in much the same way as that used to harness wind energy in that the current turns a turbine, which in turn causes gears to turn a generator and create electricity. That is the way hydro power has happened in the past, but there are other types of power produced by water.
Ocean wave energy has always been a source of power that people have sought. It is a wealth of kinetic energy that technology has struggled to harness into a useful form of energy like electricity or hydrogen. However, through the development of new technology, wave farms are beginning to produce energy that can be used to power homes, towns, and cities.
Consider the technology used in the development of new wave farms and you will see that it is quite possible that wave farms are the next big thing for hydro electric power. Until recently, it was unclear how wave energy could be captured. Because waves move in a number of directions, are not necessarily fast like a river, and because the ocean can be so corrosive and difficult to manage, engineers had been at an impasse. Now, though, there is something that can effectively be used to harvest wave power.
There is a new technology that uses the overall motion that ocean waves have on the surface of the sea. It is called the Pelamis wave energy converter and it is made to take that motion and convert it to electricity.
Pelamis Wave Energy Converter
The biggest reason that the Pelamis wave energy machine seems to work is that it designed more to hold up under the conditions of the sea rather than to try to convert every bit of energy. What that means is that instead of the technology struggling to absorb all the energy in every wave, it only takes part of the energy. In rough weather, that means that the machine will not struggle to take on too much.
How does Wave Energy Work
The machine is made up of a number of cylinder shaped sections that are jointed together. The pieces, which are partially under water move with the waves. As each one moves, they pump oil through motors causing them to drive generators. The generators in turn produce electricity. Even though the Pelamis device operates at mere 15% efficiency, 30 of them can provide power for as many as 20,000 homes.
Wave Energy Farms
Since the Pelamis wave energy machines have been shown in tests to work pretty well, wave farms are starting to pop up. The first such farm to be used commercially was installed in Portugal.
At first, the farm was made up of only 3 Pelamis machines, but as the farm begins to have success, there are plans to up the number of machines so that as many as 1,500 households can be supported by the wave farm. Additionally, there are plans to construct a wave farm off the coast of Scotland, which will also be able to supplement the power sources the country already has in place.
It is possible that wave farms are a fad, but with the success the one in Portugal has had and the possibilities opened up by the Pelamis machine, it is unlikely.
The fact is that the next big thing in hydro-power will likely be the use of wave farms to supplement power to nations all over the world. Since wave energy is clean and renewable, that is surely a good thing too.