Carnegie Wave energy is planning to open the worlds first zero-emission wave powered desalination plant in Australia. The two megawatt pilot project will operate will multiple submerged buoys tethered to pumps that funnel pressurized water to turbines onshore. There the water can either be harnessed to create electricity or to run and supply water for a reverse osmosis desalination plant.
Now with that being said, there are some questions I have in mind.
Firstly, I would like to admire the people who worked on this design to make this possible. It seems there are technological advances I’m not caught up with, and did not think something like this was (effectively) possible yet. And its about time somebody started harnessing the power of waves for something more than just energy.
Now, there are some problems with the current “Natural Harvesters” in use today, namely the solar panels and the wind turbines. The main problem I’ve read about them is that their net energy is relatively really low. Oil, the substance nations are dropping bodies over, has an incredibly high net energy. And what that means is that the ratio of the amount of ‘work’ it gives out compared to the amount of ‘work’ that it takes to gather high. Oil can produce so much energy compared to other resources. Going back to the natural harvesters, they may have the ability to generate their own power to operate, but whatever power is left over to give is low. They use almost all of the energy they gather. Not to mention the aesthetics behind it all. Although they themselves are not too much of an eye sore to me, there are countless others who would say otherwise.
While the application of this technology is relatively new, there is no telling if the design will live up to its promise. How much net energy will it produce, and will that be enough for a bigger population? Can this be something that gets incorporated at the States? Although there are other wave energy processing plants already in the works, this seems to be a right step towards sustainability.