'Artificial Blowhole' Completes 1-Year Wave Energy Test
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'Artificial Blowhole' Completes 1-Year Wave Energy Test

Tech
Speaker 1: This artificial blow hole is designed to convert wave energy into electricity. It's called the uni wave 200 and it just completed a one year test off the coast of king island Australia. We talked to the CEO of wave swell energy, the company behind this technology to get an update on how the uni wave 200 performed, what lessons they learned and what comes next. Let's get into it. The [00:00:30] uni wave 200 harvests wave energy by mimicking a naturally occurring phenomenon. The blow hole in a natural blow hole air in a contained space, such as a cave is compressed by rising waves, which sometimes causes a blast of sea water into the air in the uni wave 200, the movement of waves through the devices. Central chamber moves air through a turbine, causing it to spin and generate electricity. We've Speaker 2: Been generating electricity from our wave energy converter [00:01:00] since June of 2021. The unit has been in place on king island for over 18 months. Speaker 1: How successful was the uni wave? 200 let's look at some numbers. First efficiency, how much wave energy was the uni wave, 200 able to convert into electrical energy. Speaker 2: Nearly 50% conversion of the energy that is coming into the unit in waves is being exported as electricity to the grid on king island. Speaker 1: For comparison, the theoretical maximum efficiency of wind energy [00:01:30] is about 59% with most turbines extracting, approximately 50% wind energy. According to a 2021 energy fact sheet from the university of Michigan's center for sustainable systems for solar, most commercial panels get between 15 to 20% efficiency. The researchers have developed some panels that can get closer to 50. The other key measurement is availability. What percent of the time was the uni wave? 200 able to convert wave energy into electricity, wind and solar have both been shown to be capable [00:02:00] of getting more than 90% availability depending on the technology and how it's calculated. Speaker 2: We achieved better than 80% availability through the course of the, the trial. Whilst we know we can do better than that. And we will do better than that. Um, of course unashamedly this demonstration of the technology was just that it was a pilot and demonstration. There were many instances where we had interruptions due to the nature of experimenting and testing and fine tuning, but we're very pleased that we've achieved [00:02:30] that, uh, level of availability. The Speaker 1: One year trial was also an opportunity to study the environmental effects of the uni wave 200 on the surrounding ocean ecosystem. Speaker 2: You can't help, but notice the amount of sea life that is attracted to the unit. We we're very confident that the unit has become something of an amusement park for, for sea life because we have no moving parts in the water and we, we don't have lubricants and, and synthetic product, um, on the unit then [00:03:00] no materials entering the ocean that of a contaminant nature or otherwise. Speaker 1: Paul tells me the king island location. Wasn't chosen for its ability to produce large volumes of electricity, but rather its diversity of ocean conditions. Now that the uni wave 200 has survived a year in these conditions, efforts are underway to bring the technology toward commercialization. Speaker 2: We we'll have some very important objectives moving forward, getting more wave energy into the unit, how we think about the turbine and fine tuning the [00:03:30] turbine and also opportunities within the column itself to think about again, extracting more pressure, um, and, and more air. So we certainly think that we have a roadmap to 95, to a hundred percent availability of the unit, how we can rapidly reduce the cost of building these units, particularly when you're building them at scale. The ability to introduce more and more remote control capability of the unit and implement a great deal, more autonomous functionality on [00:04:00] the unit. Speaker 1: Paul says he hopes the uni wave 200 could provide multiple benefits to lowlying island nations in particular, Speaker 2: From a pure electricity generation perspective. We bring a technology now that can actually provide a lower cost, uh, and clean, renewable energy source to those communities. But also again, if incorporated in a, a Breakwater or sea wall that is designed and required as infrastructure for that island environment to literally protect [00:04:30] the island from rising sea level and coastal erosion, uh, then our units actually perform that jewel purpose. You also then bring a finance or if you like a revenue stream to, to what would otherwise be the, the very challenging sunk cost of that infrastructure.

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