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Mexico's Marersa Offers Wave Power to Region

Mexico's Maremotrices de Energias Renovables (Marersa) is currently negotiating for the implantation of its wave power technology at sites in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and the Dominican Republic, according to Francisco Javier Carrion Cuellar, the director general of the company. Marersa is seeking patents for the technology which it developed to build its first three megawatt wave plant at Rosarita, in Baja California, about 15 miles south of Tijuana. The plant operates at close to 85 percent efficiency and was built for the equivalent cost of $2 million per megawatt, excluding the sea wall cost, he says.

Cuellar made the comments during the 19th Border Energy Forum, held in Sonora on October 22-24, organized by the Texas Land Office.

The Rosarita pilot wave plant was initially commissioned by Mexico's national electricity company, Comision Federal de Electricidad, for $5.4 million, and was constructed with the aid of Integragas Telcorz and Grupo Nuhe. The unit will be connected to CFE’s existing 900 MW gas-fired Rosarito power station by a 600-meter underground power line. Marersa sells power from the facility to CFE and to other private consumers, at 80 percent of the cost of CFE electricity, says Cuellar.

The basic Rosarita wave plant module is designed to convert wave motion by way of a set of floating hinged buoys that create hydraulic pressure in a closed oil-filled system, connected to an electrical generator. The system generator rotates at 1,200 revolutions per minute, Cuellar says. There are eight buoys in each of the six modules of the plant, which are mounted on a pre-existing sea wall on the town beach. In cases of very strong waves, the buoys are designed to move into a full upright position and remain stationary. Marersa also is negotiating with an Italian energy design company to convert the closed hydraulic system to a pure mechanical system, Cuellar notes.

Marersa is pursuing renewable technology in a variety of areas including biofuel, photovoltaics, solid waste treatment, water treatment, wind and battery storage. Among goals of the company is to develop electric car charging stations, says Cuellar. The company's technology has been reviewed under the United Nations Cleantech Challenge.

Another wave power project under more conceptual development in Mexico is by the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education at Ensenada, Baja California (Cicese). The think tank has designed a three-pointed triangular floating platform that is attached twice to each of three points anchored to the sea floor, with each connecting arm moving independently, according to Rodger Evans, a principal researcher at the facility.

While Cicese has not yet built a prototype, it is in the process of developing a linear alternator to capture the mechanical motion of each of the six connecting arms, with the help of German researchers, Evans notes. The center currently has nine buoys off the Pacific coast of North America capturing wave data, and is in the process of creating a more detailed map of wave data for the region. The new map is expected to be 10 times more accurate than existing models, he notes.

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Charles W. Thurston is a journalist who specializes in renewable energy, from finance to technological processes. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years, living and working in locations ranging from Brazil to Papua New Guinea.

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