FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 02 September 2016

This "Hybrid Breakthrough" Could Reshape The Entire Energy Sector

by Kent Moors, Money Morning

Special Report from Money Morning

Alternative and renewable energy sources have been making some impressive gains over the past few years in both reducing the cost of generation and improving efficiency. The price of U.S. solar power, for example, has dropped more than 70% since 2009 alone.

But the "holy grail" remains something called "grid parity" - providing power at a cost equal to or less than the price of power obtained from the grid (read: from coal or natural gas).

Of course, the wind doesn't always blow, and the sun doesn't always shine. That means backup systems are needed, pushing up costs.

The solution may be to use renewable energy sources that don't have the down time of solar or wind. Biofuels (from algae, waste, wood shavings, etc.) is one possibility we have discussed here in Oil & Energy Investor recently.

But another very promising "hybrid" approach has recently been proposed.

If it succeeds, it could revolutionize the entire U.S. energy sector...

Wave Power Has No Downtime

I'm talking about a new form of wave power.

Ocean and tidal waves are predictable and don't suffer from interruptions, nor does using them for power have any adverse environmental impacts. But the cost has usually limited the application of wave power to cases where there's some other compelling reason to opt for this technology.

For example, the U.S. Navy introduced wave power at its Hawaiian installations for national security purposes - by severing the connection to the state's energy grid, the Navy's bases are no longer vulnerable to power loss in case of an attack.

Of course, that case doesn't address whether wave power could become a larger component in providing power to the grid itself...

This is a New Kind of Energy "Hybrid"

All studies agree that electricity demand will be accelerating over the next two decades. That makes it essential to have reliable power generation from a number of sources.

And that sets the stage for what may be a "hybrid" breakthrough in wave power. In this case, the "hybrid" connection is not between two different energy sources, but between two different ways of producing wave power.

Recently in Altenergymag, James Sack of private company Kinetic Wave Power, LLC discussed a development pioneered by the company that may hold some promise (you can access the entire article here).

The approach is called the PowerGinand is designed to increase power conversion rates - which translates into how much useful energy is ultimately provided from an energy source's potential total.

As Jim notes in his article, photovoltaic power (that is, solar) has an estimated maximum conversion rate of 24% at mid-day, while wind is at 45% maximum. Meanwhile, conventional ocean power provides 8-18%.

And then there is the matter of affordability...

The PowerGin is at Grid Parity

According to Jim's estimates, solar power can cost 15-30 cents/KW, wind power 5-7 cents/KW, and existing ocean technologies 8-16 cents/KW. Coal, meanwhile, remains the world's main power source and its cost (not counting environmental costs) is an affordable 4.8-5.5 cents/KW.

And that's where Jim's company comes in. They claim to have developed a breakthrough hybrid system that uses the motion of coastal waves to generate power, without any social impact or use of water.

The cost, Jim claims, is at grid parity with coal.

Now, the motion of the oceans has long looked promising. One study out of Oregon State University calculated that just 0.2% of the unused energy contained in the world's oceans would be enough to meet the power needs of the entire globe... five times.

But wave power technology, as the cost comparison above shows, has never been cheap enough for full-scale deployment.

Kinetic Wave Power claims to have changed that with their "breakthrough" hybrid approach. Here's how...

Cutting Costs by Using All Parts of a Wave

In essence, waves move in two ways: vertically (the rise and fall of a wave), and horizontally (the push and pull forwards and backwards, as well as the swirling, of a wave).

Existing wave power systems tap only one of these sources of energy (typically the vertical one). But Kinetic Wave Power's PowerGin uses both, as well as being able to generate power from the smaller, less consistent waves common along the U.S. coast.

The system uses two 80 feet long rotors with "buckets" attached to them. These buckets, as you can see in the image below, capture waves and are pushed down by them, causing the whole rotor to spin.

Meanwhile, a ramp extended between the two rotors pushes water up, turning the horizontal movement of water into a vertical wave that then pushes down on the rotor "buckets," generating even more power.


The claims for the new system are resulting in active market interest. For example, the company claims its system can achieve a conversion rate of 20-30% in weak and inconsistent U.S. coastal waves, as opposed to the 12-18% achieved by existing wave power.

And for any fans of solar power out there, Jim points out that waves are really a concentrated form of solar and wind power (as well as tidal effects, of course), with an energy density 8-10 times that of wind power.

A "park" of these generators could potentially power an industrial site or a large city, all out of sight out in the ocean.

Limited field studies of the PowerGin system have been encouraging, but there is still need for more detailed testing. However, if the hybrid system proves commercially viable, this may be a true game-changer for renewables, and for the energy industry as a whole.

I'll be keeping a close eye on this one...

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical Opinion Post Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.

You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Opinion


Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Take a look at what is going on inside of
Main Home
Analysis Blog
The Problem With Obamacare Is That It Did Little To Reduce Overall Healthcare Spending
Joan Robinson’s Critique of Marginal Utility Theory
News Blog
The Last Bucket Catch
Joe Sixpack's Situation in 3Q2016: The Average Joe Is Better Off
Why Are Some People More Delinquent On Loans Than Others? - Part 1
Gravity Returns To San Francisco Housing Market
Violent Bond Selloff: An Eye-Opening Perspective
Infographic Of The Day: Identity Theft: You Should Be Worried
Early Headlines: Russia Hacked GOP, Trump To Drain Energy 'Swamp'?, New Sec'y Of State Candidate, India IP Shrinks, India Has World's New Largest Solar Plant , China GDP Hides Volatility And More
Most Coup Attempts In Recent Years Have Failed
The Global Cost Of Diabetes
The Universities Churning Out The Most Billionaires
Five Amazing Ways Plants Have Created New Technologies
Where U.S. Weekly Wages Go The Furthest
What We Read Today 09 December 2016
Investing Blog
The New Art Of Utility Investing
Investing,com Weekly Wrap-up 09 December 2016
Opinion Blog
Trickle-down Economics, Trump Edition
Looking At Everything: Trump's $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
Precious Metals Blog
Silver Prices Rebounded Today: Where They Are Headed
Live Markets
09Dec2016 Market Close: Wall Street Closes On A New High, Trump Sugar High, Crude Prices Testing Resistance, US Dollar Melts Higher
Amazon Books & More

.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

Crowdfunding ....



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved