Electricity from sea waves

Technology turns wave motion into energy at sea

What is?

Producing electricity from the sea’s waves, a totally renewable, inexhaustible and zero-emission source of CO2. It is with this objective in mind that this system was designed, consisting of a floating hull with a gyroscopic mechanism inside that transforms the pitching caused by waves into electricity. The energy produced is thus made available for offshore infrastructures, smaller islands or small coastal communities.

 

Although it is at the beginning of its industrial development, wave energy has great potential. Firstly, because it is the densest energy resource among offshore renewables; and secondly, because wave energy is constant over a 24-hour period, being available both day and night.

Main features

Renewable
Renewable

Pilot plants

Electricity

Politecnico di Torino
More Lab

What is it for?

The motion of the sea’s waves is a concentrated and constant source of energy, useful for generating electricity in a sustainable and reliable way. Worldwide, its energy potential is about 18 thousand TWh, compared to a global electricity consumption of about 24700 TWh (IEA data 2022). The technology we have developed meets this challenge and proves useful in supplying electricity to smaller islands not connected to the main electricity grid, as well as to coastal communities and offshore infrastructures.

How does it work?

The system consists of a sealed floating hull containing a pair of gyroscopic systems connected to two current generators. The waves cause pitching (i.e.longitudinal oscillatory motion) of the floating unit, which is anchored to the seabed but free to oscillate. The pitching of the hull combines with the movement of the gyroscopes whose flywheels are held in rotation, thus giving rise to a movement known as 'precession' of the gyroscope shaft. This rotation, in turn, is transmitted to the generators and converted into electrical energy. The installation overcomes the problems caused by salt corrosion because the moving and delicate parts are inside the watertight hull, insulated from salt water, while the gyroscopes' operation is optimised and adapted to different weather conditions.

Features and performance

Off Pantelleria, we installed a model with a steel hull, eight metres wide and fifteen metres long, about 800 metres off the coast. Inside is the energy conversion system, consisting of 2 gyroscopic units with a diameter of more than 2 metres each.

30
kW

the ISWEC's nominal power when connected to the Pantelleria electricity grid


260
kWp

peak energy power from sea waves that can be generated by the ISWEC in Pantelleria


5,6
kW/m²

average wave power density in Pantelleria


30
kW

the ISWEC's nominal power when connected to the Pantelleria electricity grid

260
kWp

peak energy power from sea waves that can be generated by the ISWEC in Pantelleria

5,6
kW/m²

average wave power density in Pantelleria

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