19 July 2008

Portugal and wave power

Portugal is a country that doesn't seem to attract that much media interest.Its known for its beautiful countryside and beaches.
Yet Portugal has become a world leader in using waves to produce power.On the northern coast they have a wave farm.The wave farm uses three Pelamis P-750 machines with a capacity of approximately 2.0 megawatts. The Pelamis machines, created by Ocean Power Delivery, are essentially a series of semi-submerged tubes which are linked to each other by hinged joints. It is these joints which are the trick behind the system. The joints act as a pumping system, by pushing high pressure oil through a series of hydraulic motors, which in turn drive the electrical generators to produce electricity. Needless to say the machines are moored to the ocean bed. To give you an idea of the size of each module, the 750kw prototype, is 120m long and 3.5m in diameter. Each of these modules is composed of three individual 250kw tube.
Three of these machines compose the first phase of the wave farm, which was commissioned by the Portuguese renewable energy company Enersis. They will provide a total of 2.25 megawatts. If successfull the wave farm will be expanded to 30 of such modules. Intriguingly enough, the company mentions that they are not concerned about profitability, which the project wouldn’t reach until there at least enough modules for 500MW. What they want to is prove that there is a market for this type of technology. “What we are assembling here is the first wave farm in the world,” says Antonio Sa da Costa of Enersis.

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