Dale Vince, OBE., started his green energy company, Ecotricity, way back in 1996 and has introduced green gas and many other clean energy innovations. His Searaser, invented by Alvin Smith and manufactured by Ecotricity, solves the cost and variable output problems faced by those who wish to gain the power of the ocean.
It simply converts the wave's swell into a vertical push in a turbine onshore. A vertical piston moves up and down as a surface buoy and a seabed anchor and hose-raising buoy respond to wave movement. The piston pumps the pressured water to the turbine and electricity is created.
Searaser being deployed; Credit: Ecotricity
Many previous inventions have used an offshore assembly which is subject to corrosion and abrasion. Manufacture is therefore expensive and maintenance is very difficult in bad weather. With few moving parts, this system should last much longer and it can also be extended. The pumped water from a depth of 25m fills a coastal reservoir and this can perpetually supply a hydroelectric turbine. That solves the problem of variable output.
Alan Smith said, "There are over 150 reservoirs on our cliff tops already around the south west. A lot of these are becoming available. These tanks can be large or the size of a family swimming pool." He said that a full size machine would be about 1m wide and 12m deep and cost up to £250,000. By 2014, trials and experiments will cease and the two proposed eco- assemblies will be commercially available. Ecotricity wants to develop a commercial Searaser for testing off Falmouth in Cornwall and put hundreds around the coast in five years.
Searaser producing wave powered energy; Credit: Ecotricity
"Our vision is for Britain's electricity needs to be met entirely from the big three renewable energy sources - the wind, the sun and the sea." - Dale Vince 2011
Alvin Smith is from Cornwall where the sea is always near. He has harnessed the almost constant energy in such a way as to guarantee perpetual motion converts into perpetual energy. Working in Dartmouth, he noted the potential of a beach ball rising and falling in a swimming pool and developed the idea. That ancient dream can now be extended to every home, cheaper than gas, coal, nuclear and other clean energies. It now looks as though Portland Bill and Falmouth harbour could see test machines within twelve months.