EcoGeek has a post on research into optimising wave power generation - System for Predicting Wave Energy Could Double Wave Power Generation.
As part of a new study on wave power, the University of Exeter and Tel Aviv University have come up with a system that predicts the power of waves in order to maximize wave energy devices' ability to generate energy from the sea. The researchers found that this system could potentially double the amount of wave energy generated by a device.
Phys.org reports, "The research focused on point absorbers, commonly-used floating devices with parts that move in response to waves, generating energy which they feed back to the grid. Point absorbers are already known to be much more efficient in the amount of energy they produce if their response closely matches the force of the waves and previous research has looked at trying to increase this efficiency. However, this is the first study that has focused on increasing the device's efficiency by predicting and controlling internal forces of the device caused by forthcoming waves."
Wave energy potential is huge. It's been estimated that it could power the world twice over and the UK, where this study was conducted, could be powered twice over just by utilizing wave energy generators along its coastlines. So far, wave energy technologies haven't gained traction the way that solar and wind technologies have because the ocean is a very inhospitable place. Wave energy generators have to be able to withstand the force of each wave.
This new system predicts the power of the incoming wave, allowing the device to respond in a way that extracts the most amount of energy. This controlled reaction not only increases the efficiency of the device, but protects it from damage from rough seas. Where most current wave technologies would be shut off during a storm, a prediction system could allow the wave generator to keep operating effectively.
The University of Exeter is now working with Ocean Power Technologies, one of the largest wave energy companies, to further test the results and develop better technologies based on this research.