‘Artifical blowhole’ could make waves in marine energy

An Australian company is developing an ‘artificial blowhole’ device to harvest wave energy. Wave Swell Energy’s technology takes the form of a concrete column in the sea, measuring 20m by […]

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By Jonny Bairstow

An Australian company is developing an ‘artificial blowhole’ device to harvest wave energy.

Wave Swell Energy’s technology takes the form of a concrete column in the sea, measuring 20m by 20m across and standing 18m tall.

Only 8m of the structure protrudes above the water but contains all of the moving parts – here, water is funnelled into a central chamber, where it displaces air and turns a turbine, generating electricity.

By resonating and amplifying the waves, the system can reach a peak output of around 1MW, with an operating average of about 470kW.

This gives it a capacity factor of around 47%, more than the figure of about 30% commonly produced by other renewable energy sources. It is expected to produce electricity at a cost of AU$0.10 (£0.05) per kWh.

Wave Swell Energy aim to trial the device off the coast of King Island, which lies between Tasmania and the Australian mainland.

The island has a population of less than 2,000 people and is already an established test-bed for renewable energy.

So far, the design phase of the project and a working prototype have been completed.

A full size unit is due to be operational by mid-2018.

An engineering, procurement and consultancy firm is to assess the feasibility of a planned marine energy test site in Wales.