Mother Ocean to juice our Xboxes, TVs, etc.

That’s Mavericks, a world class big wave spot in Half Moon Bay.

Oil prices are getting out of hand. Wind and solar power are somewhat unpredictable and apparently they ‘cost too much’. A few weeks back I saw Southland Tales and the movie was about the end of the world and all this other crazy stuff. What was intriguing about the film other than Sarah Michelle Geller being a porn star was the fact that alternative energy was being pumped from the ocean. It’s not rocket science (or maybe something close to it), but I’d imagine building a huge turbine of some sort would produce massive amounts of free energy, right?

Well, Finavera Renewables has this thing called the Aquabuoy that’s a buoy connected to an underwater piston. Can you figure out how it works? No? Ok, fine. As swells roll through, the buoy goes with the flow and goes up and down. This in turn gets the piston running, which pressurizes a chamber that’s inhabited by seawater. Said pressure gets the turbine running, which if you haven’t figured it out by now produces electricity. That’s cool but so what?

Well, Finavera just scored a deal with PG&E in Nor*Cal. The power purchase is for a wave farm that will produce 2 megawatts of juice and said wave farm will be built 2.5 miles off the coast of Humboldt County. It won’t actually be up and running until 2012, but it will offset 245 tons of carbon dioxide each year and if all goes well, Finavera hopes to build the wave farm into a 100 megawatt producing rig.


But all is not well with this glorious idea. It’s more expensive to run than coal and natural gas, but it’s cheaper than offshore wind turbines and solar. A recent test run off the coast of Oregon was a bust when the buoy sank when it took on water. My alma mater has been working on this for quite some time and the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Lab is a world class facility where they study tsunamis and anything else going on in the ocean. Someone told me the head of the center surfs in the wave pool after hours, which is rad. Anyway, things are looking up for renewables, but we’re a long ways away from seeing anything actually happen on this front.

Wave power to go commercial in California []