Tasmanian wave-powered vacuum wind turbine

This device uses suction of a descending water column to spin a wind generator.
They have one demo they are calling a 200 kW machine.
If this thing could really produce 200 kW, I’d be surprised.
Maybe a momentary peak?
I did not notice an actual video of the working parts - maybe I missed it.

Anyway, I’ve noticed we always hear about wave energy devices but it seems they never get far beyond the initial press-release stage. I was starting to think maybe there just isn’t as much energy in waves as we assume.
Well, here are two articles with video on this new device, from the same source:


Wow. 3 in one. Electrical power, saving us from global warming and finally global warming adaptation by saving the coastline.

Having put all that aside, being someone who likes to dabble with surfing, the place where that ship is is the place noone would want to be. Shallow, full of currents, waves splashibg everywhere. I cant imagine you could with reasonable effort place that thing there over time without it being flushed ashore or drift to sea in the next storm.

So that maybe means the «adaptation to global warming» part means putting the beach under concrete. in that case my vote would be «no».

It also seems like a huge machine for 40 kW. Like a 100 ton ship jumping around in the beach break is the way to charge 5-10 electric vehicles.

Maybe they have a huge positive scaling story. But like the wind, the waves don’t really scale too…

1 Like

YeahTallak, I like the simplicity of the mode of operation, using air, no moving parts immersed in saltwater, but there would still be plenty of salt water contact. Even living anywhere near the beach, your motorcycle will be rusty in a couple months. This thing is very interesting, but seems like way too much structure for what it does. Did you say 40 kW? All I saw was a 200 kW callout. Seems overoptimistic at first glance. I assume peak instantaneous(?). Is it supposed to average 40 kW? I’m gonna throw out a wild guess: in average surf I bet it puts out less than 10 kW… (?) I’d like to see (and hear) a video of the actual fan working. Maybe with a visual power meter. Extracting water power from air seems like an interesting approach. Sounds like it has been done before in multiple efforts though, and the innovation here is apparently the one-way fan, that probably allows the water column to more fully accumulate, unimpeded by a fan at that key moment, for later slower energy extraction as the wave recedes.

OK I did see the reference to “40 kW” in this article with video:
LINK: Blowhole wave energy generator exceeds expectations in 12-month test
I’d love to invest in such a new idea, however, I see the typical “red flags” in this article.
I’ll just start listing them as I see them:

  1. “After a year of testing, the company reports excellent results”
    Great - WHAT ARE THEY? What’s the matter, cat got yer tongue?
    If they had such good results, why not say exactly what those results are?
    Where is a power curve, so we could get a decent idea of the energy cycle - peaks, troughs, average output, peak output…

  2. “You can see an animation showing how it works in the video below.”
    Wow, an animation! How futuristic! If it has been running for a year with good results, why no up-close video of the turbine running? Why no video of waves going thru the device, the water column rising and lowering, the sound, views from different angles…?

  3. “facing the notoriously rough seas of Bass Strait, which separates the island state of Tasmania from the mainland of Australia. There, it’s been contributing reliable clean energy to the island’s microgrid around the clock for a full 12 months.”
    OK so it is located in a really good spot for wave energy, so we should expect great results - if they say it has been “contributing reliable clean energy…for a full 12 months” then how much energy? Oh, silence on that topic. This is where the experienced people and the newbie/sucker/know-nothings part ways. The suckers read all this and think “WOW, THAT SOUNDS GREAT!!!” Experienced people say: "Show us your data. Let’s see some numbers. Show us some graphs of output over time so we can see the whole cycle. We need more details than just “it is good.”

  4. “We set out to prove that Wave Swell’s wave energy converter technology could supply electricity to a grid in a range of wave conditions, and we have done that,”
    Ohhhhh, so now they;re saying they don’t really care about actual output, just that the thing works… Again, NO NUMBERS AT ALL. M’kay…

  5. “In some instances, the performance of our technology in the ocean has exceeded expectations” - again - DETAILS???

  6. “Our team is excited to have achieved a rate of conversion from wave power to electricity at an average of 45 to 50% in a wide range of wave conditions,”
    OK so this is like the Betz Coefficient in a way: They seem to be comparing their output to the raw power in the wave. Getting half of it (if true!) is probably pretty good. But if the amount of power generated is still too small to tell us any numbers, maybe what they are saying is there is very little energy to be had from waves in the first place, right? Like, if they are getting 50% of the energy and it is still a small amount, then even if it could approach 100% efficient collection, it would still be too little to bother with.

  7. Finally when pinned down, the CEO refuses to answer the most basic question of how much energy it generates:
    "We asked Geason over email how much energy the device generated during the trial. “It’s important to stress that the demonstration at King Island was not about producing high volumes of electricity,” he responds. “Rather, it was to prove the capabilities of our technology in a variety of wave conditions. The results have met and at times exceeded our expectations. As an example, when the unit is generating 40 kW of power in reasonable wave conditions, you could extrapolate the amount of energy to be in the order of 1MWh in a 24 hour period.”
    Sounds a bit like Dave Santos, doesn’t it?
    “It’s important to stress… not about producing high volumes of electricity,”
    Wow, can you believe that?
    He actually refuses to answer the question, giving an excuse instead. Whoa… Another “crackpot”??? A ripoff operation? OK if this thing is not about producing ghigh volumes of electricty, then WTF is it for? They say they are runing at 50% efficiency, implying it could only double the power best case scenario, yet they still won;t give us any numbers whatsoever!!! Amazing!

  8. “As an example, when the unit is generating 40 kW of power in reasonable wave conditions, you could extrapolate the amount of energy to be in the order of 1MWh in a 24 hour period.”
    OK I am going to read that as follows: The highest instantaneous (peak) power generated power approached 40 kW. Maybe a one-second peak. then he says “you could extrapolate the amount of energy to be in the order of 1MWh in a 24 hour period.”
    So we, the readers, COULD (improperly) EXTRAPOLATE his dubious claim of 40 kW to a steady-state output “in the order of” 1MWh. Really? “IN the order of”? IF We, the reader extrapolates it? Relieveing YOU of extrapolating it? So, technically, you aren’t lying, you are just encouraging US to LIE TO OURSELVES?

Very tricky!
This is how most of these clean energy breakthroughs work.
“Fake it til you make it”.
but then, if you aren’t going to make it, JUST KEEP FAKING IT!
New slogan: “FAKE IT!” period.

1 Like