Researchers working at the RMIT University in Australia have recently completed their prototype that can harvest ocean energy at a rate of double efficiency than what was previously believed.
This news comes during a time when many governments, communities, and individuals around the globe are scrambling to develop more sustainable energy alternatives to help close the growing gap of climate change.
Consumer worry has also increased substantially and resulted in heightened pressure aimed towards policy-makers and large corporations who are responsible for a significant number of emissions. With that in mind, the news of new technology such as the aforementioned can aid in the assurance and encouragement of a greener future.
Harvesting Wave Energy
The role that the ocean has played in generating energy is far from a new concept, and producing energy via the strong ocean waves, in particular, has recently garnered an influx of support due to the increase in research demonstrating the array of benefits that this alternative energy can yield.
Due to the various ways ocean energy can be collected, the environmental impact will alter slightly. That said, the concept is still understood to have a much smaller carbon footprint than that of fossil fuels. This is because of less infrastructure needed, fewer by-products, and the renewability aspect that allows the ocean to maintain a significant role in producing energy for an infinite amount of time.
One of the most common ways to harvest wave energy is done by directing waves into a small man-made channel or via various types of converters housed both on top of and below the ocean surface. One of the most common ways to harvest wave energy is by directing waves into a small man-made channel or via various types of converters housed both on and below the ocean surface.
The latter option typically falls short due to their need to be synchronized with the flow of the waves. Since wave flows vary depending on the time of day, weather, and location, assuring that the converter is 100% accurate provides room for difficulty.
RMIT University's research team has developed a new technology that can convert the power of the waves into usable energy whilst mitigating the aforementioned discrepancies. This conversion process utilizes a dual-turbine design that doesn't require the sensors needed in traditional converters and instead adjusts to the ebb and flow of the ocean current, resulting in less room for energy loss.
A lead researcher for this project, Professor Xu Wang states, "By always staying in sync with the movement of the waves, we can maximize the energy that's harvested. Combined with our unique counter-rotating dual turbine wheels, this prototype can double the output power harvested from ocean waves, compared with other experimental point absorber technologies."
The two-turbine design works by having each turbine turn in the opposite direction from one another. The waves can then turn the two turbines and produce energy that is transferred to the generator located just on the ocean surface.
Wang says that "While wind and solar dominate the renewable market, they are available only 20-30% of the time. Wave energy is available 90% of the time on average and the potential power contained in offshore waves is immense. Tapping into our wave energy resource could not only help us cut carbon emissions and create new green energy jobs, it also has great potential for addressing other environmental problems."
Though the prototype has only been tested in a lab environment, Wang is optimistic that the technology will succeed when they can experiment with it in a real-life trial.
A Green Future
RMIT University's involvement in this prototype can aid in the global push for more sustainable energy options. The technology is expected to be relatively inexpensive to produce and easy to manufacture, meaning that it has the potential for being used throughout many parts of the world, even the more rural or lower-socio-economic locations that are devoid of energy.
That said, to make a significant impact on climate change there are a few large emitters that must be held accountable. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a 2014 study found that China accounts for nearly 1/3 of the world's global emissions from fossil fuels, with India, the EU, and the USA following behind. This number is rather staggering and shows just how much of an impact that a few countries, regions, or corporations can have on the rest of the world.
Targeting these large emitters can significantly aid in the lowering of atmospheric carbon and greatly reduce the threat of climate change. With these factors in mind, it is imperative that new technology such as that developed by the RMIT University be adopted on a large scale to make a lasting impact for the sake of humanity.