Commercializing wave energy
by Matt Powell
The Sea Ray generates energy through opposing forces created by waves
CORVALLIS, Ore.—Columbia Power Technologies is well on its way to commercializing wave-energy technology and has begun field testing of a prototype called the Sea Ray.
The company says the world’s oceans are said to contain enough energy to provide 6,000 terawatts of electricity annually, enough to power 600 million homes. The market for wave-energy has a potential market value of $900 billion a year.
The Sea Ray prototype, which will eventually be commercialized as the Manta, is currently testing in Washington State’s Puget Sound.
“The SeaRay is performing beyond our expectations and tracking well with modeling predictions,” said Reenst Lesemann, CEO of Columbia Power Technologies. “Our task is to demonstrate to utilities and independent power producers that we can help them deliver power predictably, reliably, and at a cost that is competitive.”
The device takes advantage of both forces waves generate – the heave, which is the vertical force and the surge, the forward force.
“The change to heave and surge exposes the device to twice as much energy,” says Lesemann. “Our earlier design only accessed one or the other.”
Shaped like a “T”, the device has two movable wings called the “aft” and “fore” floats that rotate to capture energy generated through the surge of a wave. A vertical spar bobs and swings like a buoy, employing the heave from a wave to drive its own rotary generator. The electricity from each device in the wave farm is collected and transmitted ashore for connection into a grid.