She grew up watching the waves breaking on the shores of Acre. With little entertainment going on in the historic walled port city, Inna Braverman studied the ebb and flow with great fascination.
Recently featured in WIRED Magazine and named one of the world’s “100 Makers and Mavericks” by Medium, the girl from Acre – now the co-founder and CEO of Eco Wave Power – is leading one of the most innovative Israeli companies, producing clean energy from sea waves.
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The editors of Medium who compiled this year’s list of the 100 brightest people were undoubtedly impressed by Braverman when they wrote: “If surfers can use the energy of waves, so can the rest of the planet. Eco Wave Power has developed proprietary technology for extracting energy from ocean and sea waves and converting it into electricity. Nature has the answers.”
“As a little girl, I was impressed by the sea waves,” the 31-year-old CEO tells NoCamels. “I wanted to produce energy from the waves. In Israel, it feels like anything is possible – and here I am today.”
Changing the world, one wave at a time
Water covers about 75 percent of the earth’s surface, but the world has yet to truly capitalize on the power of ocean waves. Founded in 2011 by Braverman and David Leb, Eco Wave Power (EWP) is taking giant steps in the field of renewable energy harvested from the sea, already operating power plants in Gibraltar, China, India, Chile, Mexico and Israel.
“Wave energy can produce twice the amount of electricity that the world produces today, which is a very significant amount,” Braverman said during a recent TedX Talk in Israel.
The company’s latest achievement is launching a commercial-scale plant in Gibraltar, producing 15 percent of the country’s electricity.
EWP turns water into electricity using uniquely shaped floating devices, which rise and fall with the waves’ up-and-down motion and the changes in water levels. The floaters are attached by robust arms to any type of man-made structure, such as jetties or piers. This motion is then transmitted to power stations on land, which convert the energy into fluid pressure used to spin a generator, producing electricity.
According to many scientists, wave energy has greater potential to create electricity than wind or solar power. Braverman says: “Because the density of water is greater than air, you can produce much more electricity with smaller, cheaper devices.”
The company has so far raised $2 million, and a new $5 million round is underway. “We could go public in two years,” Braverman wishfully tells NoCamels.
A man’s world
Born in 1986 in a small Ukrainian town not far from Chernobyl, Braverman moved to Israel in the 1990s. She was only 25 years old when she co-founded EWP. According to Braverman, it wasn’t easy being a young woman in the predominantly male world of engineers.
“We went to a conference and everyone thought I was David’s secretary,” she recalls. “People coming into our office would ask me for a cup of espresso or a glass of water.”
But the young entrepreneur who was mistaken for a secretary recently cut the ribbon with the prime minister of Gibraltar, inaugurating EWP’s innovative power plant.
Braverman also joined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his official visit to Australia in February. Eco Wave Power was one of only 23 Israeli companies invited to take part in this Israeli delegation. The startup is about to receive $3 million from an Australian investment fund, with a possible initial public offering (IPO) on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Braverman is also hoping to build a plant Down Under. “Australia is definitely an amazing market for wave energy. We have been looking at it for quite a long time. You have great waves for that,” she recently told The Sydney Morning Herald.
This is the second time EWP is joining Netanyahu on an official visit, with the first time being a 2014 visit to China.
“Passion is the greatest source of renewable energy”
With air pollution killing one of eight people in the world, EWP’s solution could provide clean energy for many countries that have seas, oceans and even lakes.
“It seems like slowly but surely the world understands the great potential and undeniable resource, which is wave energy,” Braverman says. “There is a huge race in the world among large companies that are spending a lot of money to develop a wave energy solution. I want to be the first with a commercially viable solution.”
What’s her secret? “Believe in yourself; if you have a great idea and passion – go for it,” she says. “Passion is the greatest source of renewable energy.”