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It’s all in the wind!

IIT Madras researchers built and implemented a wave energy generator

IIT Madras researchers have built and implemented a system that can generate electricity using energy from sea waves. The Sindhuja-I system was deployed by the researchers about six kilometers off the coast of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, where the sea is about 20 meters deep.   Sindhuja-I can presently generate 100 watts of power. In the next three years, it will be scaled up to produce one megawatt of energy.

The Sindhuja-I is composed of a floating buoy, a spar, and an electrical module. It moves up and down along with the oscillations of the waves. In the middle of the buoy, there is a hole that allows the spar to pass through. To prevent the spar from being moved by the waves, it is secured to the seafloor. As the buoy moves, but the spar doesn’t, the waves cause a relative movement between them.  In order to generate power, an electric generator uses this relative motion.

“Currently, if you want to power a city like Chennai or a small portion of it with wave power, it would be very expensive, and it would be much cheaper to use conventional energy sources.” However, for remote applications such as on islands and offshore locations, the cost of transporting power over the sea may be greater than the cost of generating electricity from waves at the location,” Abdus Samad, the study’s lead author. Samad is a professor at IIT Madras’ Department of Ocean Engineering.

During calm weather, it is fine if the system does not generate energy. Wave heights and periods change with the seasons. “What is important is that the system can withstand rough weather because there is no point in investing so much in a system if it is washed away during bad weather,” Samad explained.

Currently, no devices are using the power generated by the system since it is still in its infancy. A remote water desalination system and a surveillance camera will be installed at the site by December 2023, according to the research team. To better understand how to cope with weather-related fluctuations in power generation, the company plans to conduct additional tests.

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