New theories concerning electricity being generated from the power of ocean tides and waves may be closer to being reality than previously thought. Harnessing the power of ocean waves has been thought about for years, but so far no practical type of device has been made that is strong enough to withstand the battering received by the power of even normal ocean surf.
A number of countries are interested in turning the power of marine waves and currents into clean, pollution free electric power. Some of these countries include Australia (which has some of the most powerful waves in the world), Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Spain, South Africa, and Cyprus. One of the most promising ideas for undertaking this feat comes from an Israeli inventor named Shmuel Ovadia. Ovadia has been involved in this project for nearly 20 years, and has already patented several devices for turning waves into electricity. His idea involves a series of large buoys that ride on top of the waves and are attached of large hydraulic “arms” that contract, or turn backwards, powering an alternator that makes electricity in a similar manner as a belt powered alternator does in a car. According to Ovadia, the process is completely free of pollution as no fuel is needed to create power as is the case in present electric power plants, whether they by powered by oil, coal, natural gas, or atomic power.
The power of tides in the world’s seas and oceans can be enough to provide between 10-20% of needed megawatts of electricity which will not only save on fuel costs, but be very beneficial to the world’s environment. Areas of particular interest are locations in Africa and Asia where this kind of power would be very beneficial to developing economies that have constant problems with electric power shortages. This is where people like Ovadia and his company, SDE, come in; and he hopes that his company’s “wave power” devices will one day be providing electricity to countries which have plenty of wave power and little natural energy resources. SDE currently has developed devices large enough to provide as much as 100 megawatts of power depending on the time of year and size of the waves. As ocean waves are usually stronger in both summer and winter, the devices, called “modulators” would supply electricity at times when it is really needed to provide heating during winter months and air conditioning during hot summer months.
Ovadia wishes that his own country, Israel, would be more interested in this kind of system. But so far, electricity generated in Israel is still made from conventional power plants fueled by imported coal and oil.
There are some drawbacks in this type of system, as large ones take up consider area and appear to cause some damage to beaches, due to adverse currents generated by the hydraulic arms. But the question is, as Ovadia puts it, whether this is a worse problem than pollution caused by conventional power plants.
Whether or not the idea is accepted in Israel is not currently important though, as there are plenty of other countries more than willing to listen to people like Shmuel Ovadia; who may one day be recognized as one of the foremost pioneers of alternative energy solutions.