Science

Old trawler now harvests wave power instead of fish

Old trawler now harvests wave ...
The fishing boat, with its four chambers visible at the front
The fishing boat, with its four chambers visible at the front
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The fishing boat, with its four chambers visible at the front
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The fishing boat, with its four chambers visible at the front

An old fishing trawler has been given new life in Norway, where it's now anchored offshore in the Stadthavet area and serving as a wave power plant. It's part of a project which ultimately calls for larger, purpose-built vessels to convert wave motion into electricity.

The project is being led by Norway's Kvernevik Engineering AS, although the concept for the fishing boat conversion was first developed by Geir Arne Solheim, founder of wave power company (and project partner) Havkraft AS.

The vessel incorporates an existing system known as the "fluctuating water column" concept. It has four vertical chambers installed in its bow, which the surrounding sea water can flow in and out of. Each chamber is capped by a connected turbine, located on the boat's deck.

As waves hit the vessel, they flow up into the chambers, causing the water level inside each one to rise. This in turn causes the air pressure in the top part of the chamber to increase, thus driving the turbine and generating electricity. Likewise, as the water flows back out of the chamber, the lowered air pressure sucks air in through the turbine, again causing it to spin.

The effects of both the inward and outward flow of water is accentuated by the boat itself, as it pitches up and down in the waves. A special anchoring system ensures the vessel is always facing into the oncoming waves.

According to computer models created by project partner Marintek, the fishing boat should be able to produce an estimated 320,000 kWh per year. Kvernevik next plans on installing a hydrogen production plant onboard, so that the electricity can be stored in the form of hydrogen gas suitable for use in fuel cell cars.

The project partners then hope to build a 5-chamber 1,000-kW plant, using either a larger existing boat or a purpose-built barge. Finally, they would like to see a semi-submersible vessel that features a 4-megawatt wave power plant, along with a 6-MW wind turbine on top.

Source: Gemini

8 comments
John Dziki
Can someone please translate the power numbers number into real life numbers so I now if it produces any worthwhile amount of energy.
Toffe Carling
John, I am glad to help you. But what real life numbers do you mean? They state that the plant will give in theory 320.000kWh per year. If you mean in money it depends on what you get per kilo watt hour where you sell the energy. They want to make it into hydrogen, so you gotta see what the efficiency of a hydrogen generation plant is. And the 5 chambered 1000kW plant would mean that each hr its making 1000kWh. But please define what numbers you want and ill try to translate.
Stephen N Russell
Need bigger boat or ship to maximize wave energy alone, & test off UK, Wales, France & No Spain.
Robert Hirsch
John, at 320000kwh per year, that is about 880kwh per day. A Tesla Model S has an 85kwh battery pack. So... with this wave system you could fully charge about 10 Teslas per day, every day.
Aaryn Johansen
This is based on the Well's Turbine and has been around for decades. Generally, these RE installations are based on the shore or near shore to capture the highest possible wave heights. The problem with this RE generation method has been the 'happy clappers', 'NFI greenies' and NIMBY's opposing all project on unfounded environmental grounds (yet they also oppose coal mines so how we plan on generating electricity in the future is beyond me). Placing these turbines on a movable floating platform is one means of overcoming land based enviro impact issues. This concept could be taken so much further and it's good to see a group thinking outside the box.
John Dziki
Thanks Toffe. What I mean is numbers like how many households that could power etc. What is that equivalent to burning how much gas?
Scott in California
This type of Wells Turbine/air movement conversion of wave power into electricity has previously been built (1980s?) on the UK coast, and the power output turned out to be about a tenth of what planners had estimated. I expect similar low outputs for this scheme. No, "NIMBY" folks have never been the reason for the non-implementation of this method of power generation. It is simply that the capital cost is not justified by the power output. I am very pro OWEC, but this approach has been tried, and it fails.
Frikk Johannes Torkelsen
Im pretty sure this is the boat called "Bømmelfisk" if it is my dad used to work on this boat as an mechanic/fisher its really cool to see that they did something usefull with it. the harbor of this trawler is near too Karmøy!