Wave energy is the biggest yet unutilized renewable energy resource, although wave-harnessing has been attempted since the 1970s. Finnish AW-Energy Oy is in the process of building a promising testing plant in Portugal.
Wave energy company AW-Energy has developed and patented its WaveRoller concept, the world’s first energy production solution, which utilizes the so-called surge phenomenon found on ocean coasts.
The company was established in 2002 to continue the development work of professional diver Rauno Koivusaari’s innovation for the utilization of the phenomenon. Today AW-Energy is a pioneer of the oscillating wave surge converter concept anchored on the sea bottom. Thanks to successful testing the concept has received a lot of positive publicity compared to the floating offshore concepts.
The original idea of the WaveRoller was to pump high-pressure water through a coastal turbine. Due to problems occurred with the system’s efficacy the company began to develop new solution based on the hydraulic circuit.
In autumn 2009 AW-Energy received 3 million euro funding from the European Union. Boosted by the funding the company now engineers and builds a new demonstration plant in Portugal, near the city of Peniche which is famous for its wave resources. The official deployment of the testing site is scheduled to take place in summer 2011.
– What we expect from the test station above all is user hours. We are targeting a 30 percent utilization period of maximum load, which would give us production costs of approximately 400 euro a megawatt hour. With such high evidence we would rise to the same development path with wind power, and clearly past solar power, describes AW-Energy CEO John Liljelund.
The much awaited winner concept?
The top countries of wave energy are Great Britain, Portugal and Ireland.
– A few companies are already getting close to the pre-commercial stage. But for the wave energy industry to be fully established it still needs strong support from the public sector. Also a clear “winner concept” has been missing from the field, which the oscillating wave surge converter WaveRoller has been predicted to become.
According to Liljelund wave energy has better predictability and utilization period of maximum load than wind and solar energies. The visual drawbacks and environmental impact of the WaveRoller are also significantly smaller than for instance those of offshore wind farms.
If all goes well by 2011 wave energy will become part of the Portuguese everyday life. By then the 300 kilowatt device will be producing energy for 250 households. And even bigger projects are already being planned.
– Wave energy has the potential of growing to be a significant addition to the sustainable energy production portfolio, Liljelund trusts.