A team of European small companies and universities has launched an experimental energy device in Plymouth to harness sea wave power efficiently.
The device, about 4.5m in diameter and descending 12m below the surface, is moored in the approaches to Plymouth Sound. It has been funded partly by the European Union's Craft scheme, which encourages small companies and universities to work together.
The device is patented by Embley Energy. A buoy that can move with the waves to better withstand storm conditions, it harnesses multiple water columns that oscillate with the movement of the sea. The air displaced above the water in the columns drives an air turbine to generate power.
The team is coordinated by PEP, a subsidiary company at the University of Plymouth that manages commercial activities, intellectual property and technology transfer.
Research indicates the device will generate electricity more efficiently and in a greater quantity than in previous attempts.
Wave energy technology provides a clean, unobtrusive and cost-effective alternative to traditional power sources. The energy generated could serve coastal towns, contribute to regional power requirements and, ultimately, supplement the National Grid.
Following the launch, the research team will test and evaluate the device for six months. Equipment will be mounted in the device to relay data back to the shore, enabling the team to monitor its performance.