IIT Madras researchers have created and implemented a device that could produce power utilising energy from waves in the ocean. The researchers installed the system, known as Sindhuja-I, about six kilometres off the coast of Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, where the sea has a depth of around 20 metres. Currently, Sindhuja-I can generate 100 watts of power. In the following three years, it will be ramped up to produce one megawatt of energy.
“At the moment, it would be considerably more affordable to use conventional energy sources than wave power if you wanted to power a metropolis like Chennai or a small portion of it. The cost of moving power over the sea, however, might be more for remote applications, such as on islands and offshore sites, according to Abdus Samad, the study’s lead author, who spoke to indianexpress.com. Samad teaches at IIT Madras’ Department of Ocean Engineering.
An electrical module, a spar, and a floating buoy make up the Sindhuja-I system. As the waves rise and fall, the buoy floats up and down. This buoy has a hole in the middle that will let the spar slide through it. To prevent the spar from being moved by the waves, it is fastened to the ocean floor. However, the waves cause a relative motion between the buoy and the spar when the buoy moves but the spar does not. An electric generator generates power by using this motion relative to another object.
However, creating such a complicated system at an offshore location has its own set of difficulties. As the climate changes, for instance, the amount of energy produced by wind energy varies throughout the day and throughout the year.
Wave period and height vary with the seasons. When the weather is quiet, it’s okay if the system doesn’t generate any energy. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the system is weatherproof because there’s no use in spending a lot of money on a system if it gets destroyed by bad weather, according to Samad.
In November, when the IMD (India Meteorological Department) issued a red alert for several regions in the state of Tamil Nadu, the researchers tested the system for this reason as well. We were delighted to learn that our systems performed admirably and were not adversely impacted by challenging circumstances, he said.
As the system is still developing, no devices are currently utilising the power it produces. By December 2023, the research team hopes to have installed a remote water desalination system and a security camera at the site. In order to better understand how to manage power generation changes brought on by weather events, it also intends to carry out additional tests.
This wave energy system is being developed at a time when the potential for using waves to produce electricity is receiving more attention on a global scale. The US Department of Energy announced a $25 million grant in January of this year for businesses showcasing technologies that can harness waves to produce electricity. By 2025, the European Union wants to supply 10% of the region’s energy needs through ocean energy.
Although the “point absorber wave energy converter” technology is one of several similar technologies being developed by businesses throughout the world, it is used in the wave energy generation device created by IIT Madras researchers. Islay LIMPET uses a shoreline device that uses “Oscillating Water Column” technology to generate power. Islay LIMPET was the first grid-connected wave energy power device in the world deployed in 2000. 2018 saw its delayed decommissioning. But according to Samad, grid-scale technology is still far off for Indian shores.