This Gigantic Sea Snake Transforms Waves Into Electricity

Like a gigantic, sea-faring Shake Weight, the Pelamis system uses the power of the ocean to generate electricity. But, unlike the dubious exercise equipment, this device actually produced results when it was installed in the Aguçadoura Wave Farm.

The Pelamis machine is comprised of hinged cylinder-shaped sections, each measuring 120m long and 3.5m in diameter, which float, semi-submerged, on the surface of the water. As waves roll in, the machine flexes, causing hydraulic rams in each section to drive fluid into high pressure accumulators. The pressurized fluid is then used to drive electricity-generating turbines. The higher the waves, the more electricity generated.

Engineers at Pelamis Wave Power, the Scottish company that produces the device, estimate an peak output of 750kWhr. And by stringing three machines together, as they did at Aguçadoura, the peak capacity jumps to 2.25MW, enough to power more than 1,500 Portuguese homes. This system also saves about 2,000 tons of CO2 yearly that would be emitted from a conventional combined cycle gas power station.

The Aguçadoura Wave Farm, the first and only of its kind, was located about three miles off of Póvoa de Varzim in Northern Portugal. It officially began operating September 23rd, 2008 — just about two months before Babcock & Brown, the parent company of Pelamis, went belly up and the project was forced to close. [Pelamis Wave]

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