I’m sharing this as an potentially-optimistic vision of another way of creating a lot of energy for the world. As the article states, this particular version might not be it, but sea waves contain a lot of energy…
Solar electricity generation is proliferating globally and becoming a key pillar of the decarbonization era. Lunar energy is taking a lot longer; tidal and wave energy is tantalizingly easy to see; step into the surf in high wave conditions and it’s obvious there’s an enormous amount of power in the ocean, just waiting to be tapped. But it’s also an incredibly harsh and punishing environment, and we’re yet to see tidal or wave energy harnessed on a mass scale.
That doesn’t mean people aren’t trying – we’ve seen many tidal energy ideas and projects over the years, and just as many dedicated to pulling in wave energy for use on land. There are a lot of prototypes and small-scale commercial installations either running or under construction, and the sector remains optimistic that it’ll make a significant clean energy contribution in years to come.
SWEL claims “one single Waveline Magnet will be rated at over 100 MW in energetic environments,” and the inventor and CEO, Adam Zakheos, is quoted in a press release as saying “… we can show how a commercial sized device using our technology will achieve a Levelized Cost of Energy (LCoE) less than 1c€(US$0.01)/kWhr, crushing today’s wave energy industry reference value of 85c€ (US$0.84)/kWh …”
[T]hese kinds of promises are where these yellow sea monsters start smelling a tad fishy to us. Despite many years of wave tank testing, SWEL says it’s still putting the results together, with “performance & scale-up projections, numerical and techno-financial modeling, feasibility studies and technology performance level” information yet to be released.
If SWEL delivers on its promises, well, you’re looking at nothing short of a clean energy revolution – one it’s increasingly obvious that the planet desperately needs, even if it comes in the form of yet more plastic floating in the ocean. But with investors lining up to throw money at green energy moonshots, the space has no shortage of bad-faith operators, wishful thinking and inflated expectations. And if SWEL’s many tests had generated the kinds of results that extrapolate to some of the world’s cheapest and cleanest energy, well, we’d expect to see a little more progress, some Gates-level investment flowing in, and more than an apparent sub-10 head count driving this thing along.