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WaveNET – the floating, flexible wave energy generator

WaveNET – the floating, flexib...
WaveNET - a floating, flexible, modular and massively scalable wave power generation idea under testing in Scotland
WaveNET - a floating, flexible, modular and massively scalable wave power generation idea under testing in Scotland
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WaveNET Squid test units floating in calm seas
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WaveNET Squid test units floating in calm seas
WaveNET Squid test units floating in calm seas
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WaveNET Squid test units floating in calm seas
The small, 6-metre units generate small amounts of power
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The small, 6-metre units generate small amounts of power
Each time the units double in size, they increase tenfold in generation capacity
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Each time the units double in size, they increase tenfold in generation capacity
a 1.25 kilometre, 5-deep grid of 24-metre units would give you 100 megawatt generation capacity
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a 1.25 kilometre, 5-deep grid of 24-metre units would give you 100 megawatt generation capacity
The Squid unit's articulating pumps
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The Squid unit's articulating pumps
WaveNET Squid test units floating in calm seas
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WaveNET Squid test units floating in calm seas
WaveNET Squid test units floating in calm seas
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WaveNET Squid test units floating in calm seas
Scale model testing
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Scale model testing
Albatec deploying a 6-metre squid
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Albatec deploying a 6-metre squid
Albatec deploying a 6-metre squid
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Albatec deploying a 6-metre squid
Albatec deploying a 6-metre squid
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Albatec deploying a 6-metre squid
Albatec deploying a 6-metre squid
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Albatec deploying a 6-metre squid
A small network of 6-metre squids
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A small network of 6-metre squids
With each doubling of size comes a tenfold capacity increase
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With each doubling of size comes a tenfold capacity increase
Scale model testing
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Scale model testing
A small network of just two Squids
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A small network of just two Squids
A small network of just two Squids
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A small network of just two Squids
As a wave travels through the grid, it generates power at each point it passes.
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As a wave travels through the grid, it generates power at each point it passes.
The Squids' articulating pumps
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The Squids' articulating pumps
Multiple Squids connect at the floating buoys to create an array
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Multiple Squids connect at the floating buoys to create an array
Anatomy of a WaveNET Squid
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Anatomy of a WaveNET Squid
Albatern's Squid afloat in calm seas
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Albatern's Squid afloat in calm seas
WaveNET - a floating, flexible, modular and massively scalable wave power generation idea under testing in Scotland
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WaveNET - a floating, flexible, modular and massively scalable wave power generation idea under testing in Scotland

Scotland's Albatern is putting a new, modular spin on renewable energy generation. WaveNET is a scalable array of floating "Squid" generator units that harvest wave energy as their buoyant arms rise and fall with the motion of the waves. Each Squid can link up to as many as three others, effectively creating a large, floating grid that's flexible in every direction. The bigger this grid gets, the more efficient it becomes at harvesting energy, and the more different wave movements it can extract energy from. Albatern's 10-year target is to have 1.25 kilometer-long floating energy farms pumping out as much as 100 megawatts by 2024.

How it works

Each Squid unit in the WaveNET array consists of a central ballast pole, surrounded by three buoyant floats that connect to the central post with linking arms. The linking arms connect to the central post with a fully articulating pump unit at each end, thus any movement of the arms as the floats move in the water causes those pumps to create hydraulic energy.

Anatomy of a WaveNET Squid
Anatomy of a WaveNET Squid

The Squid units can be connected to one another at the floatation points, and Albatern has discovered that building a large array gives you "dramatic non-linear yield improvements."

Imagine a blanket of points floating on the surface of the sea – as a wave travels through the blanket, those points are pushed together, pulled apart and moved individually along X, Y and Z axes relative to one another – and every time those points move, they're generating energy.

The Squid unit's articulating pumps
The Squid unit's articulating pumps

Using a common hydrostatic transmission system, the hydraulic energy pumped through all these units is gathered at a central point and converted into electrical energy through a "power take-off" module, and here the electricity can be transmitted to shore.

Unique advantages

Because the WaveNET system is set up as an array, it's able to extract energy from five of the six degrees of wave movement – pitch, roll, heave, surge and sway.Because it's flexible and connected to the ocean floor at multiple points, it's resistant to damage from large waves because some or all of the array can be fully submerged without issue.

And because most of the action takes place underwater, the only visual impact of a WaveNET array is a group of floating yellow buoys, not unlike a mussel farm.

A small network of 6-metre squids
A small network of 6-metre squids

Scaling up

Each individual Squid unit in current WaveNET testing off the Scottish coast has a 6 meter (20 ft) tall central ballast pole, and has a generating capacity of 7.5 kW. Next up will come a 12-metre version with a 75 kW capacity, followed by a giant 24-metre Squid that can generate up to 750 kW.

With each doubling of size comes a tenfold capacity increase
With each doubling of size comes a tenfold capacity increase

a 1.25 kilometre, 5-deep grid of 24-metre units would give you 100 megawatt generation capacity
a 1.25 kilometre, 5-deep grid of 24-metre units would give you 100 megawatt generation capacity

Albatern says it can build a 100-megawatt WaveNET generator within ten years using an array of 135 of the 24-metre units, with a 1250 x 250 meter total area (4101 x 820 ft). Cost of energy is estimated at £100-150 (US$160 - $235) per MWh, which is higher than other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind at this stage.

Albatern sees its immediate market in offshore businesses – oil rigs, aquaculture outfits and remote communities that are close to rough seas but far from other sources of power. But its eventual goal is to operate large grid-scale operations within the next 10 years.

Source: Albatern WaveNET.

16 comments
Freyr Gunnar
> Cost of energy is estimated at £100-150 (US$160 - $235) per MWh, which is higher than other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind at this stage. It's not only much more expensive and require a lot of space, but just like those other renewables, that technology is intermittent so still require fossil-fuel thermal plants… which we must stop using. At this point, we just can't accept the idea that our standard of living is going to decline for lack of valid alternatives to fossil fuels.
TedF
So many pilot wave-power schemes over the decades. When will one prove tough enough to be scaled up for commercial use?
LordInsidious
This looks great and would be very useful to isolated communities on the coast.
Bill Bennett
Imagine a deep draft cargo ship slightly off course going thru this.
Craig King
I would be interested in hearing more about the materials used, the connections made between the different types of material and the seals. The ocean is a deeply hostile environment that seems to destroy everything man puts into it over time. What are the maintenance requirements and overall operating costs?
Mel Tisdale
@Freyr Gunnar "At this point, we just can't accept the idea that our standard of living is going to decline for lack of valid alternatives to fossil fuels." The problem is that not only is our standard of living going to decline, so too is our population and by quite a large number. Seeing as nearly all farming equipment is fossil fuel dependent, it is pretty obvious how the reduction in population is going to be achieved. I am very glad that I am in the autumn of my years, though I fear deeply for my son's welfare and that of his family. Of course, even if this device is any good, and let's be charitable and assume that it will be, we still have the little matter that as thing stand, it will do nothing to fuel a tractor or combine-harvester. I remember reading somewhere that if we have to go back to horse-drawn methods, then about one to one and half billion will be the maximum supportable population load. Shale oil? Yeah, right! Beware of low flying pigs.
Vanamonde
Using sustainable, renewable, clean energy to power offshore rig to drill for oil. How absolutely demented is that?
owlbeyou
I was thinking the same thing Vanamonde. The fossil fuel industry is bent on ever-increasing our dependence on its products, and will find any way possible to make the public's perception of them as green and providing economies with lots of jobs. This is just another green thing they can latch on to. In Canada they are fervently trying to whitewash their image from a filthy tar sands operation to a "proud Canadian national energy conglomerate that provides opportunities", and they are spending big bucks to change this perception. The dubious Harper government is more than willing to be its stooge and to disregard the fact that most of its constituents want to get off this addiction. When the seas are choppy, it's also windy, so essentially, which is more economical to use? The bottom line in producing a viable energy that is sustainable, is to have a combination of sources that work together to prevent gaps that need to be filled by fossil/nuclear energy.
Stephen N Russell
Mass produce & place off CA HI FL Fl Keys VA CT ME, Med Sea: France & Spain, Italy, Greece Awesome
James Donohue
But what if the Navy declares it to be a "Hazard to Navigation"? What if a ship gets snared in it, during heavy rain or Fog? What about salt water corrosion, acting on the mechanical parts?