Submitted by New Energy News Blog

Synergy: A combination that produces more than the sum of its parts.

Doctoral candidate Eric Stoutenburg of Stanford University has done data collection and calculations demonstrating that combined offshore wind and wave power projects make a New Energy synergy. Building a hybrid wind/wave ocean installation increases the amount of energy captured, the value of the energy captured and cuts the costs for each type of energy.

It’s an obvious synergism and NewEnergyNews pointed it out almost 2 years ago but Stoutenburg’s data and calculations are reportedly conclusive.

This is a significant finding since the only thing stopping wave energy from providing a big chunk of the world’s power is its early-stage limited return on investment. With economies of scale, wave energy has the potential to produce a very healthy EROEI (energy returned on energy invested). This research shows a path for wave energy to maturity by bringing added-value to offshore wind projects.

A hybrid installation costs more but has several financial advantages. Wave energy is considered a high risk investment because the technology is unproven. Offshore wind is expensive but proven. Combining them defrays costs in the riskier venture while adding to the potential return on investment from the proven technology.

Other cost benefits: Combined installation and maintenance costs and combined undersea transmission costs.

They also noticed: General Electric and Siemens, 2 of the biggest players in the wind sector, have made investments in wave power. GE put $16 million in Pelamis Wave Power and Siemens bought Wavegen.

Several hybrid projects are in the planning stages. (See WAVE + WIND… and WIND + WAVES =…)

Hydro Green Energy has designed a combination offshore wind turbine and wave energy generator. (See WIND + WAVES IN GULF OF MEXICO)

Remaining: Optimization. How many turbines? How many wave generators? How should the installation be configured?

Another 2008 study on the synergy: Wave and Offshore Wind Resource Characterization

A blog about offshore wind and wave energy together: Offshore Renewable Energy Blog

A variety of possibilities, from Grays Harbor. (click to enlarge)

Report: Optimize investmentsby pairing wind, wave energy offshore; Stanford researcher finds that the power sources aren’t strongly correlated, which means the pairing could provide consistent power supplies.
Emma Ritch, December 15, 2008 (Cleantech Group)

Eric Stoutenburg, doctoral candidate, Stanford Atmosphere Energy program;

Stoutenburg’s Combining Wind and Wave Energy in Offshore Power Plants to Reduce Variability in Electrical Generation demonstrates increases the value of the energy captured and cost cuts from combined installations.

click to enlarge

– Wind and wave power don’t generate energy at the same time (are not strongly correlated) except during storms.
– A combined installation would deliver a more consistent supply. A more consistent supply is more valuable to utilities because it doesn’t force the grid to adjust to surges and changes of generation and it reduces the hours in which no power is generated.
– Though both winds and waves are intermittent, both are also highly predictable and can, therefore, be readily accommodated by grid operators.

– Stoutenburg’s conclusions come from northern California and Oregon Pacific coast buoy data.
– Stoutenburg plans further research on the Oregon and Washington coasts.
– Stoutenburg will present his findings at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco.
– GE is based in Fairfield, Conn.
– Siemens is based in Munich, Germany.
– Finavera Renewables is based inVancouver, British Columbia.
– Hydro Green Energy is based in Houston.

click to enlarge

– Wave energy developers can eliminate part of the financial risk in their unproven technology by coordinating with wind projects.
– A wave energy installation adds cost but increases returns and savings.
– Offshore developers pay for leases according to the area covered. Covering the same area with 2 sources of generation increases the energy returned per square kilometer.
– The two power sources could share the installation and maintenance costs of undersea transmission cables, an expensive part of an offshore project.
– Operators would also save on operations and maintenance costs on the relatively inaccessible generation equipment, a significant consideration.

A theoretical cost/benefit calculation. (click to enlarge)

Eric Stoutenburg, doctoral candidate, Stanford University: “If wave energy wants to get off the ground, it might have better potential to develop in the shadow of an offshore wind plant…”




Chris Leyerle Says:
December 19th, 2008 at 11:46 pm
Grays Harbor Ocean Energy Company is proposing wind/wave marine energy installations at 7 sites in 6 US states. Multiple energy sources integrated together means firmer power.

Nigel Says:
January 11th, 2009 at 2:17 am
Great factual information and research. Thanks

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