Predicting wave power boosts marine energy potential
The ability to predict the strength of the next wave, discovered by researchers at the University of Exeter, could double the amount of energy generated by wave power units.
Knowing the size and power of the next wave potentially opens the door for wave power systems to extract maximum energy from each wave while also reducing the need for systems to be switched off during stormy conditions.
"The wave prediction approach we have proposed is almost ready to be implemented," University of Exeter researcher Dr Guang Li told edie. "We hope the industry will take our research on board now for future developments."
The discovery of the prediction process, following studies at both the University of Exeter and Tel Aviv University, focused on point absorbers, commonly-used floating devices with parts that move in response to waves, generating energy which they feed back to the grid. Point absorbers were already known to be much more efficient in the amount of energy they produce if their response could be closely matched to the force of the waves.
By discovering how to predict the size and impact of the incoming wave, therefore, the Exeter/Tel Aviv researchers believe wave devices can now be built to respond more appropriately to the force of each wave. They also say it is far less likely that devices will be damaged or need to be turned off during high seas.
"The next step is to see how effective this approach is at a large scale, by testing it in farms of Wave Energy Converters," said Dr Markus Mueller of the University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute.
Dr Guang Li added that, in terms of increased efficiency, their research suggested the predictive approach could deliver double the amount of energy currently being captured by wave energy converters.