Wing Waves Show Promise for Wave Energy in the United States

Wave energy technology is one of the more fascinating renewable energy technologies that are being researched today. In concept, they bear a similarity to how wind power works by harnessing a naturally occurring movement and transfer of energy in order to generate electricity. Sadly, a great deal of wave energy projects so far have had varying degrees of success or failure and many believe that the technology just isn’t where it needs to be for wave energy technology to make a difference. Now, off the coast of Florida, one group of researchers have been striving to make wave energy technology a viable reality.

Clean and Green Enterprises, a renewable energy company based out of Tallahassee, Florida, has been working with researchers from the Florida Institute of Technology’s College of Engineering to develop what they call Wing Waves. The design, which is about five years in the making, works in a way similar to a fan once they’ve been placed on the sea floor and start moving along with the rhythm of the waves. According to the people behind the project, the sea wings should be ideally placed in an area with a smooth, sandy sea floor and in roughly forty to fifty feet of water. Since they do not require any elaborate means of operating, the researchers have said that the Wing Waves do not have any negative effects on the ocean life in the area and have been, so far, attracting the local fish.

The Wing Waves are designed to generate a pretty substantial amount of renewable energy once they have been deployed in a way that maximizes their efficiency. According to Stephen Wood, a member of the research team, the Wing Waves can generate enough electricity to power nearly 200,000 homes when placed in a square mile set up that is comprised of roughly 1,000 units. The way the Wing Waves work is that they flap back and forth at a thirty degree angle, taking about eight to ten seconds to complete a cycle, and shut down in excessive conditions. By shutting down, they prevent damage being done to the system by too much wave energy. The current design of the Wing Waves puts them at eight feet tall and fifteen feet wide and is using aluminum components in the current prototype model.

The first Wing Waves prototype is due to be raised from the ocean floor sometime this week so that the team can determine just how effective it operated. Once installed in a full capacity, they believe that the models will be able to last roughly twenty years before requiring a replacement. Though it may be a little early to tell just how far the team will be able to go with the Wing Waves, things are certainly looking up. With any luck, maybe in a few years Florida will become the newest site for wave energy in the United States.

Article by Richard Cooke, appearing courtesy Justmeans.

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