- Title: Artificial 'blowhole' turning tide on wave energy
- Date: 6th June 2017
- Summary: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (MAY 18, 2017) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) WAVE SWELL ENERGY CEO, TOM DENNISS, SAYING: "The waves pass by and it causes the water level inside this artificial chamber, which is open underneath the water, to rise and fall and as it does so it compresses air, and then creates a partial vacuum as it's falling and we use that motion to drive an air turbine which is situated above the water line."
- Embargoed: 20th June 2017 11:05
- Keywords: renewables ocean wave energy Tom Denniss Wave Swell Energy
- Location: SYDNEY AND LAUNCESTON, AUSTRALIA
- City: SYDNEY AND LAUNCESTON, AUSTRALIA
- Country: Australia
- Topics: Science
- Reuters ID: LVA0036K5457F
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: An Australian company is looking to turn the tide on wave power, developing a new device to harness the power of the ocean, set for commercial installation in 2018.
Wave Swell Energy was established in October 2016 and CEO Tom Denniss - who has been involved in developing wave energy for more than 25 years - describes their device as operating "like an artificial blowhole."
"The waves pass by and it causes the water level inside this artificial chamber, which is open underneath the water, to rise and fall and as it does so it compresses air, and then creates a partial vacuum as it's falling and we use that motion to drive an air turbine," Denniss told Reuters in Sydney.
This concept - known as the oscillating water column - has been used by many different companies to develop wave energy technology, but the Wave Swell Energy model has made an important variation to this system.
"The difference with ours is now that we use uni-directional flow, in other hands, air flow simply coming in one direction past the turbine, whereas all other attempts have used bidirectional flow," Dennis said.
According to Denniss, this increases the turbine's efficiency and robustness.
The Australian Maritime College in Tasmania independently tested the performance of a model prototype of the apparatus and found it was at least 120 per cent more efficient than a conventional device.
When fully constructed, the device will measure 20 metres by 20 metres, weigh 4000 tonnes and reside in the ocean at a depth of around 10 metres. The air turbine and generator will be situated above the water line.
The 'artificial blowhole' device is expected to be deployed and operating off the coast of King Island - in Bass Strait - in May next year.
King Island has a population of less than 2,000 residents and has become a 'testbed' for the integration of renewable energy technologies.
"The excellent wave climate there and the support of the local community meant that it was just an ideal location for us to use as a demonstration of the commercial viability of our technology," Denniss said.
The company aims to be producing power under $A 0.05 cents ($0.04 cents) kilowatt per hour within the next five years, "which really makes it thereabouts with the very best sources of energy in the world from a cost perspective".
Denniss believes that within 50 years wave energy has the potential to produce up to 10 to 20 percent of the world's power needs.
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