A part of the solution to the challenge of diversifying the energy mix and to the increasing number of states committing to clean energy may lie in the development of renewable marine energy.
The swell, waves, tides and wind of the seas and oceans that cover 70% of the surface of the planet have an enormous potential.
Australian company BPS is harnessing this potential by conceiving two innovations inspired by marine fauna and flora: BioWAVE and BioSTREAM. Both of the mechanisms work like dynamos. They capture the marine energy, which is sent to an O-Drive module that equalises it and converts it into hydraulic pressure and then alternating current, using a turbine. The energy is then conveyed to the onshore point of use or the electricity grid.
Their particularity lies in their bio-inspired forms. BioWAVE imitates the movement of giant algae seaweeds, called kelps. The system, which is 26 metres high and anchored in the seabed, is topped by three air-filled cylinders (A), the top part of which is close to the surface. It captures the mechanical energy of the swell, which is then transmitted by hydraulic jacks (B) to an onboard O-Drive module (C) that converts the mechanical energy into electricity.
© Jérôme Meyer-Bisch
BioSTREAM is an immersed structure shaped like a fish’s caudal fin that moves in time with the tidal currents. The direction is controlled by an onboard computer (D). Unlike BioWAVE, it is anchored at greater depths in order to capture the energy of the waves more efficiently. The oscillating movement actuates two hydraulic jacks (E) that transmit their energy to an O-Drive module (F) that is connected via a cable, like BioWAVE.
These environmentally harmless mechanisms can produce up to 2 megawatt hours per year, or the equivalent of the consumption of 1,600 households, and up to 100 megawatts, if they are networked. The major advantage of this energy is that it is produced constantly.
This article was published in the sixth issue of open_resource magazine: “Towards a bio-inspired future”