May 31 2010

Wave Energy + Desalination = Progress

Published by under Student blog entries

Through some additional research regarding potential wave energy technologies, I came across two particularly interesting developments. Both use a mechanism to harness the electric power of waves offshore, but what sets them apart from other devices is their ability to transport high pressure ocean water to shore for desalination processes. In our initial research, the only technology which mentioned the possibility of desalination power was Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC). The use of wave energy for this process could cut back on capital and operating costs associated with desalination, as well as eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

With increasing global need for sources of drinking water, especially in developing countries, these technologies offer promise for future renewable energy creation as well as freshwater production.


The first technology was developed in Canada by Wave Energy Technologies, Inc. and is called the WET EnGen™. It “converts the energy of ocean waves into usable energy for power generation or pressurized water for desalination.” The company expects to generate electricity for approximately USD $0.08 to $0.15 per kWh and to produce desalinated water at approximately USD $2.00 – $4.00 per kilo-litre. When the design incorporates the company’s proposed improvements and modifications, this could fall to USD $0.05 per kWh and $1.50 per kilo-litre, respectively (1).

The main feature of the WET EnGen™ is its “Smart Float™” which travels along a rigid spar at an incline of 45 degrees. The spar is moored at a single point of contact. The float is fixed to a synthetic cable which drives a power take-off shaft. The power take-off shaft then drives a turbine to produce electricity; or a pump to produce pressurized water for desalination (1).

Photo Credit:

Visit: Wave Energy Technologies, Inc.


The second technology is a product of the Australian company Carnegie Wave Energy Limited and is called CETO. The CETO device harnesses the enormous renewable energy present in ocean waves and converts it into two commodities: zero-emission electricity and zero-emission desalinated water. CETO differs from other wave energy technologies by pumping water directly ashore under high pressure rather than generating electricity offshore and transmitting it back to shore via high voltage cables. This makes CETO a very efficient and cost effective way to desalinate freshwater from wave energy. By acting as an offshore pump, CETO delivers large volumes of high pressure seawater ashore ready for desalination via traditional means (reverse osmosis) but without the greenhouse gas emissions (2).

Photo Credit:

Visit: Carnegie Wave Energy Limited



1. Wave Energy Technologies, Inc. <>.

2. Carnegie Wave Energy Limited. <>.

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