The Gadgets Page

December 19, 2007

Harnessing the Power of the Ocean

Filed under: Green Gadgets,Misc. Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 2:03 pm

Whenever anyone gets excited about an electric car, I cringe. Electricity isn’t free and it certainly isn’t “green.” Why do electric cars get to call themselves “green” when electricity is created by burning coal in some cities? With all the excitement about electric cars, it seems like we are going to have a surge in demand for electricity.

Finavera’s AquabuoysFortunately, companies like Finavera are working on creating electricity from less polluting sources. They are harnessing the power of the ocean to create electricity.

They use Aquabuoys to create electricity:

Finavera makes a device called the Aquabuoy, a buoy connected to a long underwater piston. As the buoy bobs up and down on the waves, it pushes the piston, which pressurizes a chamber filled with seawater. The pressure cranks a turbine and electricity is made.

This sounds great, but what about the cost? The reason why companies burn coal or natural gas, is because it’s cheap. How much with Ocean Power cost?

Finavera’s long-term goal is to have the Aquabuoys produce power at 5 to 8 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s more expensive than coal (3 cents) or natural gas (4 to 5 cents) but less than offshore wind turbines (15 cents) or solar (18 or more cents, depending on the circumstances.)

That’s a lofty goal considering how temperamental the ocean can be. Finavera lost their prototype buoy to the ocean. All of it sounds like pipe dreams right now, because they aren’t planning to be online until 2012. By then, we may be desperate for ANY clean electricity, despite the price.

Here’s a video from Finavera about their Aquabuoys:

Via: Wave power to be put to use in California – Engadget


  1. Electricity produced by burning coal is still cleaner than using millions of internal combustion engines. Let’s just think about this: Do you pee in the pool or do you get out of the pool and pee in the restroom out back? Would you rather go to use the restrooms in your house or would you rather pee all over your house? Millions of cars spreading pollutions in densely populated areas and cities versus a few coal factories polluting near forests is an easy choice. Of course electric cars are green. At least they are much much greener than ICE cars.

    Comment by student007 — December 20, 2007 @ 11:15 am

  2. Try to come up with a train of logic that doesn’t involve urine and maybe people will understand you.

    My city produces electricity using natural gas. The plant is right in the city, putting out huge clouds of smoke every day.

    Centralization isn’t always the answer.

    Comment by Laura Moncur — December 20, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

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