Water Snakes, Anyone?

Image by Corpus Rex | flickr.com

From the moment I saw the term ‘wave snake,’ in the water exhibit at the ROM, I was sold. I love bodies of water, and therefore waves, and I also absolutely love snakes. Needless to say, I kept on reading and what I found is definitely worth sharing! 

Three wave snakes, made by the UK-based company Pelamis, roll up and down with the waves off the coast of Portugal. Each semi-submerged energy converter is 142m long and 3.5m across. The energy, harnessed as the cylinders move up and down, is carried by an undersea cable to Agucadoura.

From here, it will supply power for the Portugese national grid. If you’re a visual learner (like me!), check out this cool video to see how it all works.

This represents the world’s first commercial-scale machine that can get energy from offshore and get it onto the grid. This alone will supply carbon-free energy to 1000 households in Portugal. Eventually, when many more wave snakes exist, it could save up to 60,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year (and 1-2 billion tones globally!).

Not to mention, wave snakes have a positive future already. Wave energy is more sustainable and tends to be more predictable than wind energy. Models have been able to predict waves more accurately than wind, and our technology is only going to get stronger and more reliable. And with lower opening costs than solar panels and wind turbines, it is beginning to look like a more viable option by the day.

They may be off the shore of Portugal for now, but they could be worldwide. There are about 100 potential sites that we could place these snakes!

Let us know what you think by commenting below!