The people behind the new wave power technology Searaser, claims that their invention will be able to generate electricity cheaper then any other method we are currently using – This includes fossil fuels, coal and nuclear power. If their claim holds true, the Searaser technology will revolutionize the way we harness energy. In this article, I’m going to go deeper under the surface and look at how Searaser works, and see if their claims are plausible or not.
Buoyancy and Gravity
The Searaser itself does not generate electricity, but elevates the water (increasing its potential energy) by a combination of buoyancy and gravity forces. The device consists of three main components: Two buoys attached to a piston.
Above is an illustration of how Searasers works.
The lower buoy is attached to the bottom of the sea. Buoyancy pushes the upper buoy to rise when waves come in. Gravity pulls the buoy back down. We now have something that in many ways is similar to a bicycle pump.
The energy from buoyancy and gravity is used to pump water to a reservoir above the water surface, which we can release through a turbine, generating electricity; exactly the same way that hydroelectric power works. In other words, we now have a method to elevate the water mechanically without having to wait for the water cycle (evaporation).
Are these devices able to generate cost-competitive electricity?
Hundreds of devices that harness wave energy has been patented in the last decade, very few of which has the potential of becoming successful. How is Searaser different?
Since the generation of electricity takes place above the water surface, on the shore, corrosion becomes less of a problem. Searaser has therefore a quite simple design and uses cheap components compared to the vast majority of other wave power devices. This of course leads to cheaper electricity for the end user.
One of the big problems with most renewable energy sources is the fact that they are all very unpredictable. Wind and solar power are not stable sources of energy. We need to store electricity generated at times when there is supply exceeds the demand, and save this energy for times when we really need.
Compared to solar and wind power, the way we store excess energy with Searaser is much more convenient. The elevated water pretty much stay in the reservoir for as long as we want, enabling us to adjust the power generation to match peak demands in real-time. This way, Searasers could contribute to what we call the base-load energy.
Searaser 1200, the current model, has through testing proven that it can generate up to 932 kW of electricity, the amount of electricity that can power 17.000 homes. Note that this is pretty much under ideal conditions, and in reality not sustainable for longer periods of time. The team claims that 11.000 Searasers would generate enough electricity to supply all of UK’s domestic demand.
The invention sure looks promising, but we can only speculate if it will actually pan out or not. We are looking forward to see more of Searaser in the next coming years. Searaser’s inventor, Alvin Smith, and his team in England, expects that the technology is ready for the market in 2014.
This article is written by Mathias from EnergyInformative.org.