Of course, waves aren't uniformly distributed across the world. Like oil, it's a matter of lucky geology, as well as the Earth's rotation, as to what areas will most benefit from the Pelamis's energy production. The east coasts of Africa, Asia, and Australia would generate merely an average of 20 kW per yard, which means they may want to look for other energy alternatives for those regions.
The Pelamis has generated enough interest for a Portugese consortium, Enersis (yes, I know it's in Portugese, but I figured I'd provide the link anyway), to invest in 31 of the machines (3 were to be delivered in May, according to OPD). They plan to create a 2.25 megawatt (MW) "wave farm" (artist's rendition to the left) off the northern coast of Portugal, as an initial step toward a full 24 MW plant. (For an idea of scale, here are some Pennsylvania clean energy initiatives from 2005, with their relative power generation indicated.)
The design of the Pelamis should allow it to survive the dark fate of other attempts to garner energy from waves. In swells as high as 10 times the average wave (and 100 times the power), the Pelamis should remain anchored, its sleek structure allowing it to dive into the wave as needed without suffering harm.
Further details on the device can be found through a December article from Discover magazine.
With oil prices still high, it's a veritable boom time for the alternative fuel industry. As we've discussed before, there is a lot of talk on the subject, including:
- electric cards
- efficient lighting
- nanotech and microbe batteries
- the ITER fusion reactor (also here)
- other energy sources
Images: Provided upon request by Ocean Power Delivery, Ltd.