Wave power, also often referred to as tidal power, has been an ‘on’ and ‘off’ topic over the last decade. Many technologies have emerged over the years, many of them have failed (mainly because of underestimating the power of the oceans), and of course this resulted in withdrawal of major investors in the field.
But, this did not prevent many governments to still look towards this untapped resource, and seek innovations that can turn wave power into a viable renewable energy mean. Scotland (and the UK), South Korea are just few of them, but of course the US is not far behind on these plans. In 2014, NASA called for innovative proposals in the field, and promised substantial grants to those, who can do the job.
Another funding provider in the US is the National Science Foundation (NSF), who are also the ones that decided to back the latest most promising technology in the field. It is called Triton System, developed by Oscilla Power.
What makes Triton different than all the currently existing technologies is its incredible resilience, due to the very few moving parts. This is also what makes it extremely low maintenance, and therefore highly attractive, especially for utility-scale operations.
A few more technical details. Triton has a floating platform, which holds the key components of the harvester- the generators. These are made from a special alloy, connected to a heavy ring placed under water (also referred to as heavy plate). Because the “natural” state of the plate is to stay still, any movement due to waves creates tension. This tension is then converted by the generators into electricity.
Currently, Triton is being tested at a small scale under lab and controlled field conditions. However, the aim is to upscale the system to a size that can eventually power more than 650 homes.
According to NSF, the price of electricity that Triton would produce, would be competitive with that of fossil fuels, and even other renewables.
Image (c) Oscilla Power