Harnessing wave energy to light up coastal communities

February 9, 2016
Harnessing wave energy to light up coastal communities
Developing a sustainable society requires an all-hands-on-deck effort, one in which computer science and information technology have an important role to play. In October 2014, NSF announced $12.5 million in grants to 16 projects spanning 15 states through the Cyber-Innovation for Sustainability Science and Engineering (CyberSEES) program. The awards aim to advance the science of sustainability in tandem with advances in computing and communication technologies. The two-to-four-year grants, ranging from $100,000 to $1.2 million, bring together teams of researchers from computer science and other disciplines to develop new tools, technologies and models that advance sustainability science. One example of an area where CyberSEES has the potential to have significant impact is in the harvesting of energy from ocean waves. Ocean waves have the potential to economically deliver more than one quarter of the nation's electricity needs, yet to date, they are a largely untapped energy resource. An interdisciplinary research team from Lehigh University was awarded a CyberSEES grant to study and optimize the operations of future wave farms, which will test the production of electricity across an array of wave energy conversion devices. Find out more in this news release. Credit: Andrew Schmidt, PublicDomainPictures.net

There's a new renewable energy player in town and it's about to make waves in the industry. Despite its massive potential as a source for renewable energy, the ocean is unlikely to contribute meaningfully to electricity supplies without dramatic, innovation-driven reductions in the cost of energy conversion.

That's where engineers Balky Nair, Rahul Shendure and Tim Mundon come in with their company, Oscilla Power. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), they're developing a utility-scale wave harvester called the Triton. It's a sturdy system with few moving parts—rugged enough to stand up to harsh seas with little need for maintenance. This technology shows promise as a means for delivering utility-scale electric power to the grid at a price that is competitive with conventional fossil or .

The team plans more tests with increasingly larger and more sophisticated prototypes. At full scale, each Triton system will be 30 yards wide and will more than 650 homes.

Explore further: Russia can be one of the most energy-competitive areas based on renewables, study shows

Related Stories

Feeling smug about your solar rooftop? Not so fast

January 26, 2016

If you installed solar panels on your roof and feel aglow with environmental virtue, you may be in for a rude awakening. There's a good chance someone else has purchased your halo and is wearing it right now.

Boeing 737 factory to move to clean energy

December 16, 2014

Boeing said Tuesday it plans to buy renewable energy credits to replace fossil-fuel power at the factory in Washington state where it assembles its 737 commercial airplanes.

Toward a more resilient and flexible power grid

December 15, 2015

"The biggest and most complex machine ever built by humankind." That is how University of Wisconsin–Madison doctoral student of electrical engineering Philip Hart describes the nation's power grid.

Costa Rica boasts 99% renewable energy in 2015

December 18, 2015

Almost all of Costa Rica's electricity came from renewable sources this year, making it one of a few countries in the world to eschew fossil fuels in energy generation, the state electricity agency said Friday.

Recommended for you

WhatsApp vulnerable to snooping: report

January 13, 2017

The Facebook-owned mobile messaging service WhatsApp is vulnerable to interception, the Guardian newspaper reported on Friday, sparking concern over an app advertised as putting an emphasis on privacy.

US gov't accuses Fiat Chrysler of cheating on emissions

January 12, 2017

The U.S. government accused Fiat Chrysler on Thursday of failing to disclose software in some of its pickups and SUVs with diesel engines that allows them to emit more pollution than allowed under the Clean Air Act.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.