U.K.-based Checkmate Sea Energy took the wraps off a proof-of-concept version of its sea snake-like Anaconda wave power device yesterday–only ten months after the venture secured funding. The fabric and natural rubber device works by riding oncoming waves and using the motion to drive an electricity-generating turbine in its tail.
Tests on an eight-meter-long (26 feet) prototype in a wave tank have proven that the Anaconda prototype works, and now Checkmate seeks over $10 million to create a larger prototype for sea testing. A full-size Anaconda will measure up to 200 meters (656 feet) in length and could potentially produce 1 megawatt of power–enough for a thousand homes. A single Anaconda will cost over $3 million, but Checkmate imagines that “schools” of 50 or more Anacondas could be placed off the coast in Scotland, the U.S., Australia, Japan, or any other location with strong enough waves. If further testing of the Anaconda goes well, Checkmate plans on moving the device into commercial production by 2014.
The Anaconda isn’t the only wave power device that could hit the high seas in the coming years. The Seagen tidal generator and Pelamis wave power generator both began trials last year, but have dealt with technical problems due to harsh wave conditions. These are problems that the Anaconda could very well run into, but the device’s strong rubber body should protect it from the worst that the sea has to offer. Checkmate also believes that the Anaconda will provide electricity at a much lower price than other wave power devices. While wave power generally costs about 38 cents per kilowatt hour to make, power from the Anaconda costs around 14 cents per kilowatt hour.