Here's how it works: As a float on a buoy rises and falls with the waves, it drives a plunger up and down, which is connected to a hydraulic pump that converts the vertical movement into rotary motion that drives an electrical generator.
Once electricity is produced, it's sent to shore via a submerged cable.
A total of 10 buoys are planned for deployment by 2012. The first buoy will measure 150 feet tall by 40 feet wide, weigh 200 tons and cost $4 million.
While some people are skeptical of putting waves to work in a cost-effective manner, the concept makes sense. After all, why not take advantage of water that's already moving?
But the real problem is that waves are awfully unpredictable, and vary widely in height and strength. Too-large waves can damage equipment, but too-small waves aren't cost-effective for power generation.
Not to mention the environmental and economic concerns with creating "off-limits" areas of the ocean miles from the shore.