Wave and tidal energy on the rise, report says

Meet Wavebob, one of 45 energy devices about to enter the growing wet world of wave and tidal power.
Written by Melissa Mahony, Contributor

Meet Wavebob, one of 45 energy devices about to enter the growing wet world of wave and tidal power. Last year, the industry launched only about 12 ocean energy prototypes into the seas; OPT'sPowerBuoy in Hawaii is one example.

Should these marine pioneers meet expectations, the ocean will become a testing ground for many more hydrokinetic energy designs. According to a report by IHS Emerging Energy Research (EER), ocean energy projects totaling more than 1.8 gigawatts of capacity could soon be coming down the line in 16 countries.

The report also sees ocean energy industry installing a gigawatt of capacity each year by 2026.

Now back to Bob. What makes Wavebob so special? Nothing yet, but the Irish company has been receiving funding attention, including $2.4 million from the Department of Energy for a project in Maryland. This was part of $37 million the DOE gave last month to projects hoping to harness the energy of water—its waves, tides, vortexes, river currents, or thermal gradients.

Greentech Media reports:

“If you look at the wave energy sector,” Andrew Parrish [Wavebob's managing director] said, “there are probably two hundred different companies trying to do wave energy.” While “there has been little evidence” of a particular technology’s superiority, Parrish said, “the evidence is converging on a Point Absorber.” The EER report found that Point Absorbers make up more than a third of those currently vended while none of the others constitute as much as a fifth.

Wavebob, Parrish said, offers two advantages. First, it floats, so “it does not have the capital cost and maintenance obstacles of seabed installation.” It has “minimal impact on the local habitat and environment” and is “axially symmetric so you can absorb energy from all directions.”

Wavebob can also weather stormy seas well, say its developers. And doesn't need to be disconnected from its moorings to be brought back to land for servicing. Wavebob's future is entwined with Swedish company Vattenfall. Together their goal is to put 250-megawatt wave farm off Ireland's western coast.

As seen in the EER graph below, the United Kingdom is currently leading the ocean energy market. But not every idea will float. Earlier this week the UK government nixed plans to publicly fund the controversial 8.6-gigawatt Severn Barrage project spanning 10 miles between England and Whales.

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Images: Wavebob and EER
: Greentech Media

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