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, with the completion of its first commercial-scale power plant.
Located in Gibraltar, Europe – a peninsula that naturally lends itself to ocean wave harvesting – this new $5 million, 5 Megawatt plant is expected to produce 15 percent of Gibraltar’s electricity within two years, Eco Wave Power co-founder Inna Braverman tells NoCamels.
Founded in 2011, Eco Wave Power (EWP) 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.
Last year, Eco Wave Power established a subsidiary in China, after receiving an approval – as well as funds – from the Chinese government to build a 100 kilowatt plant. The $450,000 power station will initially serve 100 households, serving hundreds more as it grows. The company also operates two power stations in Israel.
“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,” according to Braverman.
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In 2012, Eco Wave Power won the prestigious Frost & Sullivan Product Innovation Award. The judges stated that the company “efficiently handles the prominent challenges prevailing in the field, and offers an all-around solution for effective energy harvesting.”
The company recently raised $2 million in a financing round led by Pirveli Ventures, after which it also received a grant from the European Union for its Gibraltar project. The latter amount was not disclosed.
It seems that investors believe in Eco Wave Power’s ability to potentially succeed in what other companies have failed to achieve: Producing cost-effective, renewable energy 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.”
Says co-founder David Leb: “The future is looking bright for wave energy, as it picks up traction and becomes more prevalent among other green energy initiatives.”
Photos and video: Ayala, Eco Wave Power