A wave farm refers to the instrumentations placed in the high seas to effectively harness wave power and convert it to productive wave or tidal energy. Such wave farms are also at times, alternatively referred to as WECs or ‘Wave Energy Converters.’ Researching on the practical applicability of such wave farms has been going on for quite a few years. Based on such researching, in a first of its kind, the Aguçadoura wave farm was put into operation in the high seas near the Portuguese city of Porto in the year 2008.
The world’s first wave farm was the result of a pioneering effort between Pelamis, the British engineering giant, Enersis, a Portuguese company specialising in alternate energy development and an Australian company Babcock and Brown that provided the required substructure for the WEC.
The main equipment used to channelize and harness the tidal power was provided by Pelamis, based on the engineering module developed by Enersis. Details about the wave farm’s technical characteristics of the offshore wave farm can be explained as under:
Aguçadoura Wave Farm: Technical Specifications
- The offshore wave farm consisted of three main cylindrical tubing, each 120 metres long, positioned in the high seas
- Each of these three cylindrical tubing were further bifurcated into four separate segments and each segment was connected to the other by way of flexible joints
- The friction between each of the segments caused by the repetitive tidal action allowed the engine systems built within the tubing, to generate the necessary tidal energy
- The engine systems were propelled hydraulically
The entire cost of equipping and installing the Aguçadoura wave farm totalled to over US$ 11 million. However in terms of its cost-to-benefit ratio, the wave farm had potential to provide fuel to over 1,500 households in its native country.
The maximum energy generating capacity of the WEC was reported to be around 2.25 mega watts which at that time, was a more than satisfactory statistic.
Technical Problems and the Future of the Wave Farm
Although the world’s first wave farm was highly successful, resultant technical glitches accounted for its abrupt withdrawal from the commercial set-up. The financial difficulties of the Australian firm also accounted for newer collaborators who took over the consequent proceedings of the WEC project. This also affected and hampered the operational viability of the wave farm.
Presently, Pelamis has been engaged in researching activities to restart the offshore wave farm. If the technical analyses are successful, the re-launched WEC would generate substantially greater amounts of wave energy as compared to the earlier Aguçadoura Wave Farm model.
References: principlepowerinc, cleanenergyactionproject, inhabitat