Pelamis Wave Power designs and manufactures the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter – a technology that uses the motion of ocean surface waves to create electricity. The company was established in 1998 and had offices and fabrication facilities in Leith Docks, Edinburgh, Scotland. It went into administration in November 2014. Wikipedia.
News Article | October 28, 2008
A bane of Big Oil’s offshore rigs could become a boon for renewable energy. By tapping the natural motion of slow-moving water, a new hydrokinetic generator could open vast new swaths of the ocean for energy production. When ocean currents flow over any kind of cylinder, like the long cables that hold drilling platforms in place, small vortices are created. They eventually spin away, or shed, causing vibrations that over time can destroy an oil rig’s moorings. Now, a University of Michigan engineer who long worked on suppressing this phenomenon, has developed a prototype energy-harvester that can capture the mechanical energy it creates. "About four years ago, it dawned on me that we should enhance the vibrations and try to harness the energy," said ocean engineer Michael Bernitsas, who has founded Vortex Hydro Energy to commercialize his idea. "No one has ever thought of patenting this idea, even though vortex induced vibrations were first observed in 1504 by Leonardo da Vinci." Energy experts consider the movement of water in oceans a vast untapped source of clean energy that could provide up to 10 percent of U.S. demand (pdf). A variety of schemes have been proposed to capture this mechanical energy, usually involving turbines to capture fast-moving water generated by tides or a strong current. But few projects have progressed beyond the science project stage. The most advanced is a Pelamis Wave Power project off the coast of Portugal, which provides a mere 2 megawatts of power. One major problem is that most underwater turbines require the water to be moving very fast. One study suggested that hydrokinetic projects only made economic sense in currents moving at over six knots, which are highly rare. It’s all the ocean’s other currents, which are generally under 3 knots, that Bernitsas sees as his technology’s main advantage. "There is a huge amount of hydrokinetic energy in currents but a lot of that we cannot harness with the present technology and that’s where my device comes in, to extract energy at speeds down to 1 knot," said Michael Bernitsas, who has founded Vortex Hydro Energy to commercialize his idea. "It taps into a new energy source." That idea has attracted some name-brand backers. The National Science Foundation, the U.S. Navy, and the Department of Energy have together contributed about $2 million to Vortex to further develop the concept. Prototypes of the device — known as Vortex Induced Vibrations Aquatic Clean Energy — are essentially round cylinders a few inches across suspended in water on a spring. The vortices generated by water flow move the cylinder up and down. The VIVACE system converts that mechanical energy into electricity via rotary or linear generators. In the future, Bernitsas wants to create modular 50 kilowatt units, like the artist’s rendering seen above. They could be strung together for larger applications into power plants producing as much as a gigawatt of power. The engineers are working on making the basic system components more efficient, too. The cylinders of the early designs have sprouted tails, which allow them to use more of the energy in the vortices. It’s an idea that the engineer has borrowed from whales, fish, tadpoles and other creatures that move in liquid, which he says all have a bluff, or not slender, body followed by a tail. "The muscle power the fish have is not enough to support the speed at which they are going," he said. "So, if you study more carefully, there are lots of things going on. A fish will curve its body, collect a vortex, shed it, and collect one on the other side and shed that, alternating on the two sides of its body." The design of the system allows it to take much more energy out of the water than turbine-based systems. In technical terms, the energy density of the system is higher. For example, in a three-knot current, the VIVACE gets 50 watts per cubic meter of water, while the Pelamis system, considered the world leader in ocean energy, gets 21. The innovative nature of the idea, however, is no guarantee of commercial success. "I think that it’s at a very, very early stage of development," said Roger Bedard, an analyst at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, and world expert on ocean energy. And Bernitsas’ system would be subject to the United States’ regulatory process, which was designed with large hydroelectric dam projects in mind, and that has hampered all hydrokinetic energy technology development. "You have to go through 20 to 25 different regulatory agencies in this country," Bedard said. Governmental risk frightens potential investors. Erik Straser of the Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Mohr Davidow Ventures, sees potential regulatory and technical issues, too. "This seems like it would be have some issues with permitting," Straser wrote in an e-mail to Wired.com. "I think that and reliability will be the key issues to deployment and efficacy." Bernitsas believes that his technology is much more environmentally friendly than other marine projects, so he’s looking forward to working with regulators. Still, the tide could be turning, no pun intended, for marine and hydrokinetic projects. The recent Wall Street bailout bill included tax credits for these projects, which could stir investor interest. For now, Bernitsas isn’t focused on large-scale production just yet. The first ready-to-use prototype, slated for splash down in the Detroit River, will be ready in about a year. "We’re where cars were 100 years ago," Bernitsas said. "Hopefully it won’t take us 100 years to get where we need to be." Images: 1. An artist’s rendering of a future VIVACE power plant. 2. A schematic of the early VIVACE prototype. Courtesy the University of Michigan. Video: Early proof-of-concept device generating electricity, which in turn powers the lightbulbs. Courtesy Vortex Hydro Power.
News Article | November 10, 2008
Get out your atlas, see if you can find Agucadoura, Portugal. Just three miles offshore there, these big metallic sea snakes are bobbing in the ever-restless waves of the North Atlantic. And they're generating electricity for over a thousand homes on shore. It now is the world's most ambitious, working wave farm for generating electricity. It is part of Portugal's national effort to become energy self-sufficient as Denmark has done since the 1970s oil crisis. Portugal is not a wealthy nation and has no coal or petroleum. So wind and water and sunshine are their favored sources of energy. Portugal is also one nation encouraging local cities to become zero emission communities. It is an Edinburgh-based firm that developed the technology. The company is Pelamis Wave Power and Portugal is their first commercial project. Here's Pelamis's website. Their original 40-million pound investment came from a variety of venture firms and utility companies. Two private firms are their clients in Portugal: Enersis and Babcock and Brown. Pelamis has projects approved for the Orkenys, Scotland, and another off the Cornwall Coast in southwestern England. Here's a diagram of what a wave farm looks like in operation: Courtesy: Pelamis Want to see a Pelamis "sea snakie" in operaton? YouTube has it.
News Article | May 12, 2011
The European Union will consider whether a massive wave energy project from Scotland should receive a piece of a renewable-energy and carbon reduction project fund that could total billions of euros. The Pentland Orkney Wave Energy Resource (POWER) project was nominated this week by the U.K. government for the NER300, a fund managed jointly by the European Commission, European Investment Bank, and member states that's named after the 300 million carbon "allowances" being sold to raise the funds. If approved, funded, and built, the wave energy farm would be the largest grid-connected wave energy farm in the world, according to the Scottish European Green Energy Centre. The POWER project as currently proposed would place 24 wave energy converters from Pelamis Wave Power and 10 Oyster 3 wave energy converters from Aquamarine Power in the Orkneys off the coast of Scotland. They would tie in to the Scottish electric grid and, together, they would make up a 28-megawatt wave power farm. The Pelamis wave energy converter is a floating serpentine machine made up of multiple sealed cylinders that each contain power modules, hydraulic cylinders, and motor generators. The cylinders are connected by two-direction hinged joints. Jostling by the motion of ocean waves in relation to the hinges enables the machine to generate electricity, and transfer it by subsea cable. The submerged Oyster, meanwhile, is shaped like an oyster shell that opens and closes from wave motion. It uses that energy to pump a hydro-electric turbine back on land to produce electricity. Perhaps not surprising from the island country, the U.K. nominated five projects among its 12 bids that would place green tech in its surrounding waters: the POWER project, three projects involving tidal turbines, and a project for 10 megawatts of offshore wind turbines. The NER300 fund overall plans to invest in 34 renewable-energy projects, and eight carbon capture and storage projects. Each member country, including the U.K., will receive funding for at least one but no more than three projects each.
Khosravi N.,University of Dundee |
Barker L.,Industrial Doctorate Center for Offshore Renewable Energy |
O'Donoghue V.,Pelamis Wave Power |
Benzie J.,Pelamis Wave Power |
And 2 more authors.
Renewable Energies Offshore - 1st International Conference on Renewable Energies Offshore, RENEW 2014 | Year: 2015
This paper describes the program of research aimed to investigate the best approach for using concrete as the primary material for Pelamis Wave Energy Converter (WEC). One of the most concentrated renewable energy sources is wave power; but using this valuable source of energy needs further development of technology, as well as cost effective and fast manufacturing processes with flexibility of design for ongoing changes and improvements. Previous feasibility studies have proven that concrete can be considered as one of the main options for achieving this goal however the main challenge in this regard will be ensuring the durability of the proposed concrete structure, irrespective of manufacturing method. This paper introduces the program of research for investigating the use of concrete as the primary material for Pelamis and presents preliminary results of the durability property tests for the concrete mix designs and adhesive joints. © 2015 Taylor & Francis Group, London.