It was a Eureka moment for Rauno Koivusaari, and he started to work on harnessing the powerful motion for generating underwater wave power. Now, fifteen years later, the EU is funding the WaveRoller invented by that former diver, with $4.4 million. His company AW-Energy will do a demo of his device in “the wave capital” Peniche area off the Portugese coast.
The Finnish diver Rauno Koivusaari had been exploring a shipwreck in the Baltic in 1993 when he nearly got hit by a shipwrecked door on the seabed that was slowly flapping back and forth in the roiling currents deep under the sea.
The invention that was inspired by the near hit under the sea was the WaveRoller. The company that the diver founded to create it is now leading a consortium of organizations working on aspects of the first test of wave energy funded by the EU; Bosch-Rexroth, ABB, Eneolica, and Wave Energy Centre.
For the yearlong test a 300 KW WaveRoller unit will be bolted to the seafloor and the energy data recorded. Funding comes from the European Union as part of its program to assist the R&D for developing new renewable energy sources. This is their first wave energy research funding.
The WaveRoller captures the powerful undulating motion at the sea floor where back and forth surge movement has been recorded by AW-Energy. The device would be positioned 7-15 meters under the surface, so it’s well beneath the bottom of passing ships. It is also well out of sight of NIMBY opposition.
It has had increasingly elaborate tests to tweak the engineering since 1999, and it is now ready for its first year-long test at full scale (3.5 by 4.5 by 6 meters) for one unit. This is a modular energy system; more units can be connected together in groups of three to scale it up to make more power.
Just one 300 KW WaveRoller unit weighs 20 tons. Divers take care.