A new submerged wave energy generator had 99% uptime with no maintenance for 10 months

The company aims to deploy 1 GW of wave energy systems by 2035.
Chris Young
The xWave.
The xWave.

Source: CalWave 

U.S.-based startup CalWave announced the successful completion of an open-ocean test of its xWave clean power technology this week, a report from New Atlas reveals.

The company's device, which is designed to harness the power of the waves to produce electricity, demonstrated over 99 percent system uptime during the tests off the coast of San Diego, which lasted a total of 10 months.

CalWave believes it can harness the waves to become the first company to deploy wave energy systems at a mass scale. Before it can do so, more trials are needed, and it will also have to reveal more in the way of specifications about its submerged system.

CalWave successfully harnesses the waves

The wave energy technology industry is really still in its early development phase. Though there are many wave energy companies, it's still yet to take off at a massive scale. Still, as CalWave points out on its website, "ocean waves are 20-60 times more energy-dense, predictable and consistent compared to other forms of renewable energy."

The hard part is harnessing that energy in an efficient manner, though CalWave believes it has the solution. The company's xWave is a buoyant platform that's anchored to the sea floor using a tether to hold it under the water's surface. CalWave tested a 1/20th-scale model in a test basin in 2016, but now it has successfully put a full-sized model to the test.

CalWave has yet to reveal much in the way of specifications for how its system works. In a video the company posted last year, COO Dan Petcovic said, "as a wave passes over the top, you get a pressure wave that causes motion relative to the sea floor, and with our anchors on the sea floor, we convert that relative motion to power."

Will wave energy take off?

The xWave is run underwater to protect it from catastrophic damage caused by rough seas. This is key to the longevity of the device, the company explains, as is a spool system that allows the xWave to be reigned in during bad weather. xWave says the device will be cheaper than the competition and will work efficiently for years underwater. The system features anti-corrosion coating and anti-biofouling coating, with a third-party assessment verifying it is not dangerous to marine life.

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The recent open-ocean test showed the xWave could operate with 99 percent uptime for months without maintenance. The test was originally scheduled to last six months, but it was extended to 10. CalWave explained that the platform "achieved high performance as targeted and predicted," and that it required zero operator interventions. The company also said the xWave successfully shut itself down during rough conditions.

There's still a lot of work to go before the world fully buys into the hype of wave energy. For starters, xWave is yet to announce how much energy the xWave produces — though it has announced it will soon deploy a 100-kilowatt version of the xWave off the coast of Oregon for a two-year trial. CalWave has also announced a goal of deploying 1 GW of wave energy systems by 2035, which is not a huge amount given the dire necessity for mass-scale renewable energy solutions.

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