Most of us have heard about renewable energy such as solar, wind and thermal but a lot of us know very little about wave energy conversion. Wave energy conversion has more benefits than wind and solar and Australia is not short on ocean swells.

A wave generator uses the oceans currents that pass below the generator to produce energy. A wave generator sits above the water with an underwater opening that allows the ocean swell to rise up into it and fall away. The energy that is produced is converted into air pressure which then turns a wind turbine. As the swell passes through the generator, air is pushed up inside and this turns the turbine and as the swell drops away the air creates a vacuum and this turns the turbine again. The swell creates the energy as it enters and as it exits the generator.

The benefit of wave energy is that you can predict generation up to a week in advance where wind energy you can only predict generation a few hours in advance. Wind and solar energy vary throughout any day but waves are consistent throughout the day. A huge benefit! As swells change the generators technology ensures that there is little impact on the power grid.

A wave energy converter
A wave energy converter which moves with the surface motion of the sea to drive generators to produce electricity. The electricity is fed into underwater cables and brought to land. Although the waves contain plenty of energy only five per cent is accessible. This is due to the fact that the height and frequency of waves is variable, and few places are suitable for building large wave farms. Image: Pelarmis Wave Power Ltd
© Pelarmis Wave Power Ltd

As we look to ways of reducing green house gas emission, this technology will hopefully be part of the solution in our futures energy production. Harnessing the oceans swell is using a resource that will not run out, the generators produces very little or no greenhouse gases and once the generators are built and in place there is very little cost.

Australia is leading the world in this unique technology and the best features of our generators are that all moving parts are above the water line which is great for maintenance and marine life and the generators do not use any oil so oil spills are not a concern either for marine life.

The decisions where to locate the generators are taken very serious and not only are the costs a big consideration but the environmental impacts, the cultural, the social, the aesthetic and recreation effects on local communities.

Our generators can be used as one standalone unit or installed in a group. These generators can be installed in many different environmental conditions.

Some people may not like the look of the generators in our oceans but I don’t mind looking at them as it reminds me of the fact that this technology is going to play a big part in our planets sustainable future and that is a very import goal.

Australia is very lucky, we are surrounded by oceans, we have lots of sunshine and many areas are very windy so moving forward and harnessing our free renewable energies just makes a lot of sense. We can keep our mineral resources for any emergencies we may have in the future. Proactive planning ensures goals are achieved and is better than reactive action when we run out of mineral resources.