Using wave energy to generate electricity sounds very attractive, after all there are tons of waves and all they do (in addition to looking pretty) is eroding coast lines. But that’s exactly the problem: There is a lot of energy in waves, so wave power plants have to be extremely tough.
Below you see the waves entering a funnel that will lead them slightly uphill…
…so the water can fill up reservoir which is located higher than sea level…
…in order to drive turbines when the reservoir is emptied out again into the sea.
You already see the huge amount of energy stored in those waves, and looking at how little is left of the power plant, it’s definitely safer to stay well clear of those waves!
Check out in the movie below what it looks like when waves enter this power plant (and pay attention to the two people on the rock on the other side — they clearly didn’t expect that much energy in the waves! :-D)
After posting about how longer fetch leads to higher waves yesterday, here is why I was in that exact spot in the first place: To visit an old wave power plant on Toftøyna! The power plant was built in the 80s but destroyed only a couple of years after it had been built, so all there is to see now are some pretty exciting ruins!
Below, you see a cylinder that is a couple of meters high and some meters across, and that connects the air above the water with the water below. There used to be a turbine sitting at the top of that cylinder that used to be driven by the air column moved by waves at the base of the cylinder. The turbine is long gone, but what still happens is waves putting the water inside the cylinder into motion. And that looks pretty impressive as you see in the movie below!
Looking at those fountains shooting out of the cylinder, it’s not difficult to imagine what enormous kinds of forces the turbine had to endure before it got destroyed. Super impressive!
But what’s similarly impressive to me is how there are tiny flowers growing in this harsh environment. I guess it’s true: “life, eh, finds a way” :D
I just found this picture that I took back in May near my friend Elin’s cabin on an island in western Norway, and it’s a really nice illustration of how the same wind will cause very different waves depending on whether it’s blowing over the sea for many kilometres, or over a puddle for only a couple of centimetres.