Energy

Experimental "blowhole" wave energy generator goes online down under

Experimental "blowhole" wave e...
Wave Swell Energy's 200-kilowatt "blowhole" energy demonstrator has successfully been installed off the coast of King Island, Tasmania
Wave Swell Energy's 200-kilowatt "blowhole" energy demonstrator has successfully been installed off the coast of King Island, Tasmania
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Wave Swell Energy's 200-kilowatt "blowhole" energy demonstrator has successfully been installed off the coast of King Island, Tasmania
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Wave Swell Energy's 200-kilowatt "blowhole" energy demonstrator has successfully been installed off the coast of King Island, Tasmania
The UniWave200, installed off the coast of King Island
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The UniWave200, installed off the coast of King Island
The demonstrator sits about 100 m (328 feet) off shore in water around 5.75 m (19 feet) deep
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The demonstrator sits about 100 m (328 feet) off shore in water around 5.75 m (19 feet) deep
The UniWave200 is not much of a looker, particularly in its picturesque surroundings. Coat of paint, guys?
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The UniWave200 is not much of a looker, particularly in its picturesque surroundings. Coat of paint, guys?
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A 200-kilowatt demonstration version of Wave Swell Energy's fascinating "blowhole" power generator has been deployed at Grassy Harbour on King Island, off the Australian island state of Tasmania and will be connected to the grid in the coming months.

The UniWave200 device harnesses wave energy by channeling water in and out of a concrete chamber as the waves ebb and flow. The water pushes air in and out of the top of the chamber, forming an artificial blowhole from which energy can be harvested using a wind turbine. Controversially, it only harvests energy on the in-stroke. Wave Swell Energy CEO Tom Denniss told us in 2017 that the complexity of bidirectional turbines makes them less efficient than a simple, single-direction turbine like this one.

The demonstrator sits about 100 m (328 feet) off shore in water around 5.75 m (19 feet) deep
The demonstrator sits about 100 m (328 feet) off shore in water around 5.75 m (19 feet) deep

This project will contribute to King Island's renewable energy mix, which also includes wind and solar generation. But its key job is to prove the efficiency, reliability, durability and accessibility of the technology itself, which Wave Swell Energy claims could bring renewable energy generation costs on par with coal-fired generation costs in larger megawatt-scale installations.

Many renewable sources are starting to beat coal on price, but wave energy offers a different generation cycle to add to the renewable mix. It's certainly not the prettiest structure to plonk in the middle of a gorgeous Tasmanian bay, but it'll be interesting to see how it stacks up.

Source: Wave Swell Energy via The Guardian

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22 comments
22 comments
MattII
The question occurs, if the turbines are one-way only, why not stick two turbines in, one for in, the other out?
martinwinlow
PV is globally accepted to be the cheapest means of generating electricity and it has been for some time. The storage required to make it all work is, however, another matter.
Suzanne B
Two turbines was my initial thought. Maybe too difficult for them.
David V
This is very interesting. Considering that the usual complaint is that wind power only works when there is wind, you can't say the same for waves - there will always be waves. It's not without it's own problems with the tide so not totally universal. It doesn't look nice and has obviously not been designed to fit in but I'm sure it could better designed to fit the scenery if that was part of the brief.
I like the idea for a turbine in and a turbine out. I'm sure they've thought about this.
Jerome Morley Larson Sr eAIA
Better to harness the tides right next to all coastal cities— they rise and fall 26 feet every day — powered by the moon — no need to despoil and the energy is right where it is needed — no transport costs..
RangerJones
The OWC is an artificial blowhole consisting of a chamber that is open underneath the waterline. As waves pass the OWC, the water rises and falls inside, forcing the air to pass by a turbine at the top of the chamber. This turbine generates electricity.
Previous OWC technologies have all been bidirectional. The WSE technology, however, operates unidirectionally. This results in the WSE turbine being simpler, more robust and reliable, and exhibiting a higher energy conversion efficiency. The only moving parts in the technology are the turbine and bespoke valves, all of which are well above the water line. There are no moving parts in or below the water.
JerryDobson
I suspect the only reason these alternative sources are reaching coal energy prices is because of all the restrictions and penalties placed on coal energy.
Lumvouris Webb
So none of your read how he said,”... that the complexity of bidirectional turbines makes them less efficient than a simple, single-direction turbine like this one.”
Nelson Hyde Chick
The best part about generating energy with waves is that it is steady, no days when energy isn't generated on account of a day without sun or wind.
TechGazer
Adding a second unidirectional turbine would probably reduce overall efficiency, because it would reduce flow for the other turbine.
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