Offshore wind turbines are a must-have if the world is to reduce its dependence on non-renewable energy resources–in one fell swoop they obliterate the “not in my back yard” problem land-based turbines suffer. And with the addition of the new Wave Treader power generator, the turbines will get double the eco-fun.
Wave power generators aren’t new–Salter’s famous “duck” invention goes back to the ’70s, and Portugal installed the world’s first offshore wave farm recently–but the idea of combining a wave power generator with an offshore turbine is particularly neat. After all, if you’re installing a wave power farm you’ll need to anchor it to the seabed somehow, and if you’re installing an off-shore wind turbine you’re effectively providing those anchors for free.
So Green Ocean Energy has developed the Wave Treader, based on its existing Ocean Treader design. Each device is comprised of a pair of floats connected to sliding hydraulic arms on the turbine’s leg–as a wave passes, first one float then the other bobs up and compresses a hydraulic cylinder. A hydraulic smoother evens out the pressure in the hydraulic fluid, and then passes it on to a hydraulic generator which spits out electrical power. The whole assembly can freely rotate around the turbine leg of course, so that it faces into the oncoming waves for greater efficiency.
The power is sent down the very same supply lines the wind turbine uses, which further saves on infrastructure costs. Each device can generate 500KW of power, and Green Ocean expects to test a prototype this year and go commercial in 2011.
Fabulous. But I can’t help but think the design is missing a final tweak. With a turbine planted out in the ocean catching the wind, and an attached Wave Treader catching passing wave energy then surely the system has room for a tide-harvesting generator too? A fabulous underwater tide-harvesting system, SeaGen, has undergone successful trials off Northern Ireland…and though it wouldn’t work in every location a wind-turbine was installed, it’d certainly work in some.
All you’d need to do would be to coat the wind turbine’s mast in photovoltaic cells and the offshore turbine would become the greenest power source yet.