Video: Wave-amplifying generator bounces twice as high as the swells

Video: Wave-amplifying generator bounces twice as high as the swells
CorPower's 62-foot-high C4 has exceeded expectations in ocean testing
CorPower's 62-foot-high C4 has exceeded expectations in ocean testing
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CorPower's 62-foot-high C4 has exceeded expectations in ocean testing
CorPower's 62-foot-high C4 has exceeded expectations in ocean testing
The generator and wavespring tech can be maintained on-site; the interior of the buoy is dry
The generator and wavespring tech can be maintained on-site; the interior of the buoy is dry

Sweden's CorPower has announced "breakthrough" results from Atlantic ocean testing of its full-scale floating generators, which cleverly time their motions to amplify smaller waves while protecting themselves against dangerous storm conditions.

In a mechanical sense, this is a pretty standard looking anchored buoy point absorber type system; waves lift a floaty air-filled chassis up and down, and a power takeoff system within harvests energy by converting that linear up and down movement into rotation for running generators.

CorPower says it's a novel phase control technology called WaveSpring that sets its huge C4 buoys apart. An internal pneumatic cylinder is pre-tensioned to pull the buoy downwards, such that in the absence of active control, the buoy simply sits still in "transparent" mode no matter how high the waves get. This acts as a safety mechanism under the worst conditions.

How it works- CorPower Ocean Wave Energy Converters

But when waves are more reasonable, things get weird and the C4 starts bobbing up and down twice as far as the amplitude of the waves, by adjusting the phase of its movements. That is, it doesn't rise at the exact same time as the wave does, it lags behind to get a little extra energy boost, which propels it higher.

The effect makes a huge difference to power generation; CorPower claims a 300% increase in power generation compared to a similar buoy without Wavespring phase adjustments.

It's also remarkable to watch, as you can see at around 0:45 in the video below – particularly given that these buoys are so dang big – 19 m (62 ft) tall and 9m (30 ft) in diameter.

Reflections after three months in the water.

CorPower has just hauled this C4 in after six months at an exposed test site in the Atlantic ocean off Aguçadoura, Portugal, where it's been connected to the grid and exporting power. In November, the weather treated CorPower to the perfect survivability test, delivering monster 18.5-m (61-ft) waves – higher than any previously measured. The C4 went into "transparent" mode and rode out the storm without issue.

The team recorded a peak power export around 600 kW, but says the device was limited in both velocity and stroke during the test. It expects to see peak output around 850 kW when it's run at full capacity.

Running test data against the C4's digital twin, CorPower engineers discovered they'd been slightly underestimating its power generation capabilities, so things are definitely on track there.

Now, the buoy is getting a planned checkup back on dry land, where it'll be studied to see how it's held up at sea, and upgrades and adjustments will be made before it's towed back to its site. That's one clear benefit of this kind of design; you can very easily hook and unhook these machines for maintenance back at port.

Getting down to tin tacks, CorPower has projected a Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE) in the range of US$33-44 per megawatt-hour once it's deployed 20 gigawatts of capacity. That would be a pretty competitive price, given that wave energy is pretty much 24/7 and can fill in the gaps when wind and solar aren't delivering.

CorPower Ocean - Wave farms

20 GW is a whole lotta buoys though. More than 20,000 of them. So it'll take a while to get that LCoE down to a manageable level. Next step, says the company, will be a multi-buoy site where the concept can start to be tested in something closer to a commercial rollout.

Does this work at scale? We sure hope so, and to the extent that acreage is an issue on the high seas, CorPower says these things can extract 3-5 times more power from a given square kilometer of ocean than a floating offshore wind installation. But wave and tidal energy projects tend to move at a frustratingly slow pace – well, compared to things like large language model AIs, I suppose everything moves slowly.

And AI is part of the problem. Yes, the world needs to decarbonize its existing power generation capacity. Yes, we also need enough clean power to cover all the cars, trucks, furnaces and everything else that's electrified as we shoot for zero emissions by 2050.

The generator and wavespring tech can be maintained on-site; the interior of the buoy is dry
The generator and wavespring tech can be maintained on-site; the interior of the buoy is dry

But as Elon Musk recently pointed out, we'll also need to feed another rising behemoth as millions upon millions of high-powered AI chips start gulping electricity at horrendous rates to train and run next-gen AI models. Musk is predicting electricity shortages will start becoming a problem as early as next year.

So we'll need all the clean energy initiatives we can practically get operational. CorPower seems well-funded, it seems to have a decent-looking solution that's scalable, hardy and very close to production-ready. So get cracking, guys! We'd love to see it succeed at scale.

Source: CorPower

And then we'll use these at scale and find out that they slow the rotation of the planet, or change global weather by altering ocean currents. Ever a problem for another day, I guess
Moving parts = things break.
Emanuel Crisp
@jzj Wind power (never mind gas, coal and nuclear) has moving parts too and seems to have coped pretty well so far.
Ornery Johnson
Seems like a great idea, but How long before someone claims these thinks "batter" whales, or "pop up" in front of migrating birds? (ha)
Adrian Akau
It is a good technology and should be used.
Metal Organic Kraftwerk
Lol, loving the algorithmic gaming to introduce the complete non sequiter of large language models and Elon Musk. Respect the hustle 😉
300kw is the peak output in ideal conditions: output is sinusoidal, and nonlinear (lower input produces disproportionally lower output due to the nature of generation from moving parts) - so the AVERAGE output is never going to exceed 150kw - and that's their "ideal conditions" output, so the operating actual *average* output is typically going to be half of that, or about 75kw (aka 75kwh). To produce 20gigawatts (which was the wrong unit - everyone meant gigawatthours) you're going to need 266,000 of these, not 20,000.

The whole idea is dead-in-the-water if you're worried about LCoE - maintaining a quarter of a million bobbing gadgets in the open ocean which is possibly the most hostile environment on earth is an absolute deal-breaker. Growths, wear, storms, lightning strikes - each *one* of those is going to cost more than the entire installation every few years alone.
All those telescoping cylinders don't look like something that will hold up well in the ocean. Any efficiency gains are useless if the equipment takes too much maintenance.

Also, the cost of this system should also include the cost of a fossil fuel power plant with equal capacity, that is maintained on stand-by. It won't double the cost, but still, will add a LOT more cost that people tend to forget about. This is needed for any intermittent power source.
I love it and want to see the 15 year horizon surface defouling and Yemini Captaining (kind of a marled finish on the hull) mockups. Can't believe the Annual Report negging doesn't predict the boiling of the oceans or nonmetal construction alts. It could be slag boules from geothermal borefronts...
These wave poewer generators are a worthy goal to be studied even with the mechanical moving parts that are a concern and may need to be simplified and or made more sustainable? But it is NBD because it is early in this tech's evolution and that it needs to start asap.

This rush is given due to the massive wasteful energy needed to support both fake money in bitcoins and also the fake creative output of growing AI's energy demands with them just two areas that need to find some much greater efficiency to lessen the need for wave power's speed of development.

On that,, I wonder what they determined in use of flexible membranes with pneumatic, hydraulic, hydrodynamic and inflatable pressure differences for a more sustainable power generating system?
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