The farm, which draws its power from the energy of ocean surface waves, is expected to power about 400 homes, according to a report in USA Today.
Here’s how it works: As a float on a buoy rises and falls with the waves, it drives a plunger up and down, which is connected to a hydraulic pump that converts the vertical movement into rotary motion that drives an electrical generator.
Once electricity is produced, it’s sent to shore via a submerged cable.
While some people are skeptical of putting waves to work in a cost-effective manner, the concept makes sense. After all, why not take advantage of water that’s already moving?
(One suggestion: whether we ought to take advantage of the wind that’s causing them instead.)
But the real problem is that waves are awfully unpredictable, and vary widely in height and strength. Too-large waves can damage equipment, but too-small waves aren’t cost-effective for power generation.
Not to mention the environmental and economic concerns with creating “off-limits” areas of the ocean miles from the shore.
Hopefully, Ocean Power won’t run into such problems — another one of its projects is for the U.S. Marine Corps base in Hawaii.
Here’s a great broadcast report on the wave power effort: