Water covers three-quarters of the earth’s surface, but the world has yet to capitalize on the power of ocean waves, even though the energy that can be harvested from oceans is equal to twice the amount of electricity that the world produces now, according to the World Energy Council. But Israeli startup Eco Wave Power is taking giant steps in the field of renewable energy harvested from the sea, moving forward with a first-of-its-kind plant in China.
The company, which was founded in Tel Aviv in 2011, turns water into electricity using uniquely shaped buoys (floating devices), which rise and fall with the waves’ up-and-down motion and the changes in water levels.
With over 18,000 kilometers of coastline and approximately 6,500 islands, China is believed to be one of the biggest markets for wave energy, and that’s exactly where the Israeli startup is headed. According to the China New Energy Chamber of Commerce, which will next week hold the Ninth China New Energy International Forum in Beijing, economic development in the country is relying more and more on innovation-driven, energy-saving solutions. “In this context, the new energy industry will have a big role to play.”
Reducing pollution around the globe
China’s wave energy potential reaches a whopping 12,852 Megawatt, with most massive resources in Taiwan, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Fujian and Shandong. “We believe that China is being very innovative by replacing some of its coal and other polluting methods with renewables such as solar, wind and now wave energy,” David Leb, Eco Wave Power co-founder, said in a statement. “We’re confident that wave energy is one of the most significant possibilities for emissions reduction and lowering the worldwide pollution.”
Eco Wave Power recently established a subsidiary in Suzhou, China, after receiving an approval – as well as funds – from the Chinese government. Investments from a Chinese governmental fund will assist in the building of the company’s 100 Kilowatt plant, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year. The $450,000 power station will initially serve 100 households, serving hundreds more as it grows. “Israel is certainly a powerhouse when it comes to water technologies, including desalination and irrigation. The world positively views technologies that were developed in Israel,” Eco Wave Power co-founder Inna Braverman tells NoCamels.
According to Braverman, who along with Leb founded Eco Wave Power four years ago, the company is in negotiations regarding the expansion of the plant in China to produce 50 Megawatt. “Eco Wave Power’s commercial-scale power plant in China will be the first of its kind,” she proudly declares.
The company currently operates a small power station in Jaffa, Israel, and is investing about $5 million in the building of a 5 Megawatt plant in Gibraltar. “Gibraltar is so small, that vast solar farms were out of the question,” Braverman says. “In two years, 15 percent of Gibraltar’s electricity will be produced by Eco Wave Power.”
The startup company, which is in the midst of raising $5 million from private investors (seed money was provided by Leb), can potentially succeed in what other companies have failed to achieve: Producing cost-effective electricity from sea waves. “Our competitors have tried to establish power stations offshore, where the waves rise to 17 meters; but the costs of maintaining a power station 4-5 kilometers from the coastline were very high,” Braverman says. “In contrast, we operate close to the pier, where the waves are not as powerful but the cost of operation is not expensive. Our goal is to harvest as much energy as possible with our uniquely shaped devices, so that we can be competitive in the market.”
Photos and video courtesy of Eco Wave Power