Using the motion of ocean surface waves to create electricity, which we can call wave power, is a renewable way of generating energy that could be an alternative to fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil. It presents some advantages over other renewable energies such as it predictability, efficiency, and accessibility.
Pelamis Wave Energy Converter, created by the Scottish company Pelamis Wave Power, is the first commercial machine capable of generating electricity using ocean wave energy. Today, they already count with generators installed in Portugal, near the town of Povoa de Varzim, the first commercial-scale wave power station in the world – a project that took about six years of research.
Its name comes from the form it takes, similar to that of a yellow-bellied sea snake that inhabits tropical and subtropical waters, called ‘Pelamis platurus’. The energy converter consists of three cylindrical sections linked together totaling 142 meters in length and 3.5 meteres of diameter, partially submerged.
The waves generate movement in the three sections activating an internal hydraulic system pumping high pressure oil through a system of hydraulic motors. These are coupled to an electrical generator, which is responsible for producing energy which then is transported to a base on the sea bed.
The energy recovery system is designed so that it can withstand adverse weather conditions. In addition, this system is friendly to the environment by limiting the use of chemicals that are used to reduce coral growth, and in turn has a minimal impact on the marine life.