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Wave Power Prototype Produces Electricity



Wave energy is about to swell and surge forward with the SeaRay prototype from Columbia Power Technologies. This seafaring device is floating in the Puget Sound and sending back performance data for analysis. It’s in the process of demonstrating to utility and power producing companies that it can deliver power predictably, reliably, and cost competitively.


The SeaRay prototype gathers energy from the waves in the sea.

Columbia is developing new technologies that will generate energy between one and three miles offshore where the available wave energy is greatest. The company says that this direct drive system, which avoids the use of pneumatic and hydraulic conversion steps, is more efficient, reliable, easier to maintain, and is therefore the most likely to deliver the lowest cost of energy. Currently, the company research is focusing on point absorbers, direct coupling of the wave motion to the generator, innovative use of permanent magnets, reducing the number of moving parts, and minimizing the number of conversion steps and associated losses.

Having completed tank testing, the company has deployed an intermediate scale prototype near Seattle and code named it SeaRay. The device is tuned to the Puget Sound environment and is controlled remotely from Corvallis Oregon.

According to Columbia Power Technologies, the SeaRay’s design allows it to extract up to twice the energy from ocean waves as other developing technologies. By employing what the company refers to as a heave and surge energy capture design, the company says the SeaRay can tap the full energy potential from passing waves. Its design also looks to make it uniquely conditioned to survive a harsh battering about at sea.

Columbia Power envisions delivering megawatt-scale devices that can operate in temperate-zone coastal waters around the globe. The company says that there is enough energy in the world’s oceans to extract and provide as much as 6,000 TW of electricity each year.

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