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November 02, 2006



" The system has a potential to produce a net of 38kWh per meter of beachfront occupied (worldwide average)."

38kWh in a day? in a year? in a hundred years? A kilowatt-hour is a unit of energy. I've always found kWh/year a pretty roundabout unit, (couldn't they just give us yearly average power ratings in Watts??) but we could use some clarification in this situation!


Excellent!! Beat that, if you can nuclear and fossil fans.


Well, this seems to good to be true, which usually means it is, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see. It would certainly be excellent to have another cost-effective renewable resource to add to the tool-box of available renewables.

Thomas Pedersen

Is there a type-o in the headline?

Or can you really buy a 50 kW plant for just one dollar?

Greg Woulf

This looks good. The big problem is the shortage of open and appropriate beach front property.

A 1 MW facility means 1 mW per year. There is a lot of stray numbers floating around, but the cost per kW is pretty clear.

It's just another way to go, I say we accept them all if they work and are close to the price of coal/oil/NG.


Well, that website kinda has "fly-by-night" written all over it, but if its legit there's no reason why you couldn't, for example, install a ton of those things on the rocky coast of Maine and power most of New England. It would seem that wave power is consistent and predictable. However, I think that there would be the same NIMBY garbage that's blocked Cape Wind.


Wave machines like this could be mounted on breakwaters and on floating platforms that also hold big wind machines.

It would not be necessary to use beach frontage. Only water front areas where wave barriers like breakwaters already are in use.

Floating platforms that take in wave energy from any direction and use a toroidal platform where waves break over the edge and go down through a central hole turning a rotor have fewer moving parts and would withstand storms better than this design.

They could be anchored far enough offshore so residents would not object. and a series of these platforms could provide protection for national fisheries from multi-national unregulated industrial fishing that is destroying life in the oceans.

Large wind machines mounted on offshore floating platforms could also produce power at or below 2 cents per kwh.

Harvey D.

Exellent opportunity.

Coal, Oil, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Hydrogen and shore lovers lobbies will fight it for decades or until it is banned.

Let's hope that countries like Israel, Japan, India, China etc + most islands without suffisant energy sources will harness that source of free and clean energy.

Waves (+ sun + wind) could easily power all the PHEVs and BEVs of the world and contribute to GHG reduction.

2 cents per kWh

Typo in the headline? Yes, and throughout the article.. right? You mean 2 cents per kWh each time.....


"Excellent!! Beat that, if you can nuclear and fossil fans."

Well, nuclear and fossil (and solar) will beat that any time you need power and don't have tidal motion/ beach-front available, which is limited. So they win in scale.

Or, perhaps this technology wins at first, and once the tidal resources are used up to the limit that we specify is okay and they aren't supplying more than 10% (an uninformed guess) of our power needs, the others win for the rest of eternity.

kWh again

sorry guys, but it needs to be said again because I just noticed some prices in per kW/h .. a kilowatt-hour is a kilowatt times an hour, no division. it is a unit of energy, since a watt is power (energy/time) and an hour is time. A kW/h would be energy/time^2 which would be something odd like acceleration of energy with time. I'm going to guess that Jim just pasted this article, since he knows what he's talking about. We've got to end this 'people throwing units around without understanding them' habit.

"Our power plants produce electricity at a cost of 2 cents per kW and cost from $650000/MW to build." --Hopefully whoever did the calculations knew more what they meant than the authors of the article, since the unit errors are abundant.

Buddy Ebsen

Poster Thomas Pedersen says that a 1MW facility means 1 MW per year. This is wrong in several ways. 1 MW in this context means peak production in continuous output. This means it could light 10,000 x 100 watt light bulbs for as long as the peak is reached. If this was sustained for a full year, it would be 1 MW x 24 hrs x 365 days = 8760 MWh (or Megawatt hours).

I think the article meant 2 cents per kwh, and cost $650,000 per MW of installed capacity.

I have some problems with the other numbers: "The erection cost of a 1MW S.D.E. station is from $650,000 while a comparable station costs $1,500,000 from coal, $900,000 from natural gas, $1,500,000 from solar sources, and $3,000,000 from wind."

- Huh? solar is cheaper than wind now? Where do I buy these solar systems? I have also seen some wind installations that are closer to $1 million per MW of installed capacity. This quote is from the Danish Wind Industry Association: "The average price for large, modern wind farms is around 1 000 USD per kilowatt electrical power installed." http://www.windpower.org/en/tour/econ/index.htm

For the math challenged, that is $1,000,000 USD per MW.


Buddy Ebsen is right. The claim was: cost of electricity (COE) = 2c/kWh; Capital cost (plant installed cost) = $650k/MW, suppose you want to build a power plant of 250MW, which is a normal scale power plant, the total installed cost is about 250x$650,000=$162.5MM.

This would definitely be a wonderful news if the claim is true. But ... just sounds too good to be true - or should I say "fishy" :D.


PS. I wonder what the average lifetime is for these tidal power plants, consdering that they are being pounded 24x7 by salty sea water ...

Jim from The Energy Blog

Sorry for the confusion about units, but I am only quoting SDE. It is my policy not to interpret this sort of information. I think it is clear that they meant 2 cents per kWh. It was a careless mistake on my part to not have the proper units in the headline, which I have just corrected.

As fora corrosion-the corrosion rate for materials exposed to sea water and air as shown in their picture is about as bad as it gets. They claim that only 15% of their system is exposed to sea water. The bouy's could likely be made from relatively inexpensive fiber reinforced plastics. Metal parts would have to be made from relatively expensive stainless steels or similar materials. The stainless steel industry has made significant strides in making alloys that are resistant to sea water that are less expensive than some of the earlier alloys.

A 20 year life is certainly possible with the right materials.

Paul Dietz

3.6 cents from wind.

That must either be with subsidies or at the very best (and rare) sites. EPRI's numbers for wind in 2010 put the average cost of power at more than twice that.

Roger Davis

I live in Hawaii and wave energy gets talked about a lot here, not that I am an expert by any stretch. My understanding, and I hope I'm not just spreading FUD, is that:

(1) Overall wave energy potential is actually pretty small compared to other renewables. In Hawaii and other warm-water locales OTEC is a lot more promising as an ocean technology, not to mention solar and wind.

(2) Wave energy machines are tuned to some extent to match typical wave conditions at a site, but typical is nearly always anything but, meaning that wave conditions change a *lot*, hence these things rarely work at their optimal capacity.

(3) There is a lot of mechanical stress on these systems in general, although I can't speak to SDE's design in particular. OPT did a prototype installation off Kaneohe (see
http://www.oceanpowertechnologies.com/projects.htm) a while back that literally pounded itself to pieces in a storm. (I know an engineer that worked on the project.)

(4) There is a huge NIMBY aspect to this technology. Anyone who tried to ring Oahu with the thousands of wave machines that would be required to generate any substantial amount of power would get run out of town on a rail, peak oil be damned.

As someone else pointed out, SDE's design actually requires an existing breakwater or other structure, so you'd have to factor those into your construction costs and EROEI calculations, not to mention the environmental impact. There is a growing body of research demonstrating that seawalls are very bad things for coastlines. Installing these on existing breakwaters would probably be a good idea, but that would hugely limit their use to minor niche status.

The best mechanical marine energy scheme I have seen yet is at

The best ocean energy technology overall IMHO is OTEC (see www.ocees.com), unfortunately its proponents are having difficulty getting the required financial backing -- even a tiny demo plant still requires some big-ass deep-sea pipes that are not cheap. Keep your eye on NELHA (Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii, www.nelha.org) where OCEES is hoping to build a small demo plant in the next couple of years. A demo OTEC installation was done there years ago but with much older technology. OCEES is hopeful that a new demo with much higher demonstrated efficiency will attract the backers required to build a real power plant elsewhere. (Required personal disclaimer: I have engineer buddies at OCEES, but no financial interest.)

Sterling D. Allan

We've created a feature page here:

Feel free to help us keep it updated, accurate, and insightful.

Shmuel Naveh

The idea is fantastic. I hope it is also feasible and practical.


Very nice idea.
But basic errors found on their website "2 cents per kW" (instead of kWh) or "38kWh per meter of beachfront" (instead of 38 kW) give some doubts about their real skill and their to-good-to-be-true numbers.
Let the device face some storms and give some more reliable production statistics. More hands-on tests required.


Great job Sterling! Have you hooked one up to a reverse osmosis desalinization pump yet?

Any calculation on the amount of suitable breakwater and dock locations for your systems? I think it would be huge, especially in built up coastal areas with cities that use a lot of power and water.

Israel sure has made progress on the renewable energy front. Excellent!!!

shamil ayntrazi, PE

Congratulations for the info you are providing. The following might help.
Two systems are herein proposed. They excel all others.
1. Wave Air Pump - WAP: Compresses air and feed it into the air inlet of a turbine, add fuel as needed to maintain turbine output irrespective of wave heights.
2. Wave Water Pump - WWP: Lifts a small quantity of water to a high head and feed it to a hydro-turbine to produce power, or compressed air to feed another turbine and act as a WAP.
A set of pumps up to ten may be installed in line with the incoming waves and a mile wide to extract most of its energy.
The proposed systems can generate electric power at a cost less than 2 Cents per kilowatt-hour.

1. Simple construction, low capital and maintenance costs, efficient energy extraction, auto-adjust to varying wave heights and sea levels, and provide dependable power output.
2. Resist storms, and are safe to navigation.
3. Zero emissions; do not disturb marine life or shoreline scenic view, and provide a Free Floating Break Water Structure.

cosma vasile

Did you know that Romania has a technical solution with the highest efficiency to capture wave power?.
Patent 108893 entitled Dynamic Engine for Sea Wave Energy Catching. A pioneering invention. It is estimated that “dynamic engine” has the ability to catching wave energy at a rate of over 80% while the other technical solutions known worldwide, are not able to capture wave energy with a higher percentage of about 10-15%. E-mail [email protected]
Cosma Vasile. Romania.


Well, nuclear and fossil (and solar) will beat that any time you need power and don't have tidal motion/ beach-front available, which is limited. So they win in scale.

kunal hindustani

i learnt your system.but i think my system(modal)is better than yours........

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