For towns and cities in coastal areas, harvesting wave energy makes a lot of sense. The company Albatern from Scotland recently came out with a unique solution for easy and affordable way to do just that. The so-called WaveNET is a modular and scalable array of floating generator units. These units, also referred to as “Squids”, are capable of harvesting wave energy via their buoyant arms that can follow the motion of the waves very precisely.
Up to three Squids can be linked one to another, which creates a floating energy harvesting grid that is flexible in all directions. The efficiency of this grid depends on how big it is, and how many different wave movements it can harness for energy production. Albatern’s goal is to install a 1.25 kilometer-long floating energy farm by 2024.
A Squid unit is made up of a central ballast pole, which holds up three buoyant floats connected to the central post with linking arms. These arms are connected to the central post through a fully articulating pump unit at each end. This means that any movement of the arms caused by the waves creates hydraulic energy through the pumps.
The units use a standard hydrostatic transmission system to gather the generated hydraulic energy at a central point, and convert it into electrical energy through a “power take-off” module, from where the generated electricity can be transmitted to shore.
Albatern is currently testing their WaveNET technology just off the Scottish coast with a 20-foot tall central ballast pole, with a generating capacity of 7.5 kW. They are also planning on testing a 40-foot version soon, which has a generating capacity of 75 kW. Lastly they will install a giant 80-foot Squid with a generating capacity of 750 kW.
The immediate market for this technolgy are oil rigs and aquaculture companies, as well as remote villages that are close to the sea. However, once Albatern finishes their planned expansion they will be able to engage in larger, grid scale operations.