A slippery answer to UK’s energy needs?

A few weeks ago I wrote about plans to use the Pentland firth in the Orkneys as a trial site for marine-based renewable energy. I said at the time that it has always seemed plain daft that the sea-bound UK is not storming ahead with wave and tidal power systems. So I’m pleased to see that the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has announced that UK scientists have been working on a renewable energy concept called the “Anaconda” – a sea snake shaped device that generates electricity from ocean waves.

What is refreshing about this device is that it seems simple and potentially very low-cost since it avoids the complex mechanical construction of most wave machines. The system consists of a long, hollow rubber ‘snake’, closed at both ends and filled with water. The snake is suspended a few metres below the surface of the sea. When a wave hits the snake it causes a bulge inside the tube which travels down the length of the snake. When the bulge reaches the other end of the tube the pressure of the water drives an electricity turbine.

The inventor’s website has full details of how it all works, including a video of a small-scale experiment. They reckon a full-scale device could generate 1MW for a cost of around £2 million, which is much less than other wave devices, and the EPSRC reckons sea trials could begin within just five years.

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One Response to “A slippery answer to UK’s energy needs?”

  1. Alan Carter-Davies Says:

    Bring it on! ‘Bout time we saw some wave action especially in the current frenzy of fuel price rises. Five years seems a long way off though.

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