The waves of the world’s oceans deploy a massive amount of energy. With a moderate swell, with 3 m waves passing with an 8 s period, the energy flux is 36 kW per metre of crest. It has been estimated that coastal waves could provide an average power of about 2.1 TW, approximately equal to the world’s total electricity demand.
The ocean is an aggressive environment for placing anything. The very forces that are being harnessed for energy generation threaten the systems, the moving parts are a nightmare, maintenance is a frequent and expensive requirement, corrosion, interference with navigation, impact on sea life, etc. are some of the numerous problems faced.
Principia has been supporting SBM Offshore in their development of a new generation of Wave Energy Converters (S3® WEC): a submerged, fibre-reinforced elastomeric tube, filled with water, that locally expands and contracts in response to the varying pressures associated with the passage of the waves. The tube is wrapped with rings of electroactive polymers and their strain energy variation is directly converted into electrical potential energy.