Ocean Electricity

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Ocean Electricity

Interesting tech news from a BusinessWeek newsletter (I'd hyperlink to it, but I got it via email).

The sun rises and sets, and winds come and go—but the ocean’s waves roll all day and all night. That’s why harnessing wave energy promises more reliable power than solar cells or windmills, according to engineers Annette von Jouanne and Alan K. Wallace at Oregon State University.

They have built a buoy that may prove to be an efficient, nonpolluting generator of electricity. The mechanism is surprisingly simple. Inside the buoy is a motionless magnet that’s anchored to the seabed. Around the magnet is an electrical coil attached to the floating buoy. As the buoy bobs on the waves, the coil moves up and down around the magnet, producing electricity—from 50 to 200 kilowatts, depending on wave size. A fleet of such buoys 1 to 2 miles offshore could feed electrical power to coastal towns or factories. Next summer, OSU and the Electric Power Research Institute plan to test the buoys off the coast of Oregon.



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