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New Energy World
New Energy World embraces the whole energy industry as it connects and converges to address the decarbonisation challenge. It covers progress being made across the industry, from the dynamics under way to reduce emissions in oil and gas, through improvements to the efficiency of energy conversion and use, to cutting-edge initiatives in renewable and low carbon technologies.
World’s first inertial sea wave energy converter
Eni has installed what it claims is the world’s first inertial sea wave energy converter (ISWEC) device to be connected to the electricity grid of an island.
The device developed by Eni, the Politecnico di Torino and Wave for Energy, will convert energy from sea waves to directly supply the island of Pantelleria in the Strait of Sicily with renewable electricity.
The ISWEC is located about 800 metres off the coast of the island and can reach 260 kW of power at peak generation. ‘This experimental campaign, conducted under real operating conditions, will lead to useful results for developing the second-generation device currently under study,’ reports Eni.
Converting wave motion into electricity which then supplies energy to offshore infrastructure, small off-grid islands and coastal communities, the ISWEC comprises a steel hull measuring 8x15 metres which houses the energy conversion system, consisting of two gyroscopic units, each more than 2 metres in diameter. The device is held in place in 35 metres water depth by a special mooring system comprising three mooring lines and a swivel (a rotating joint) that responds to weather and sea conditions. The electricity produced is transmitted ashore via a subsea electric cable.
Eni reports that the ISWEC’s energy capture process is regulated by the flywheel’s rotation speed and by the torque of the generator, which lets the hull’s inertia adapt to the marine wavelength that affects it.
Wave power is a ‘currently untapped’ source of renewable energy and offers huge potential as 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water (97% of which is made up of seas and oceans). The power that could be generated from sea waves is estimated at around 2 TW globally, for a total of 18,000 TWh/y, almost the same as the entire planet’s demand for electricity, reports Eni.
The company also notes that energy from sea waves is ‘more predictable, constant and of higher energy density than that of the sun and wind, as it is available both during the day and at night’. A further advantage of the technology is the ‘considerable reduction of its impact on the landscape’, since the device stands only 1 metre above sea water. Moreover, Eni states: ‘ISWEC can be integrated perfectly with other offshore renewable energy production systems, such as wind power generators, because it enhances the value of connection systems and can be integrated with other facilities in the same sea area, thereby maximising the conversion of available energy.’
Click here to see a brief video of ISWEC in action.