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Wave of the Future? Tapping Wave Energy for Desalination

The future has arrived in Western Australia thanks to new technology created and implemented by Carnegie Wave Energy. The CETO project marries renewable power with desalination—a timely marriage when droughts and climate change take center stage.
April 27, 2015, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"In one of the country’s biggest infrastructure projects in its history, Australia’s five largest cities are spending $13.2 billion on desalination plants capable of sucking millions of gallons of seawater from the surrounding oceans every day, removing the salt and yielding potable water,"  writes Amy Yee of The New York Times.

One of the biggest challenges is to how to supply the energy while creating the lowest carbon footprint. That's where Carnegie Wave Energy's renewable power comes into play.

"Named after the Greek sea goddess, CETO technology produces zero-emission electricity by using submerged buoys tethered to seabed pumps, which drive hydroelectric turbines via high-pressure water through a subsea pipe," writes William Yeoman of The West Australian. They buoys create the energy by harnessing the waves, causing them to go up and down.

"In late February, the buoys started supplying 240 kilowatts each to the electricity grid at HMAS Stirling, Australia’s largest naval base," writes Yee. "They also help run a desalination plant that transforms seawater into about one-third of the base’s fresh water supply."

"The potential energy in the ocean's waves globally is twice what the world currently consumes, so there is enormous potential for wave energy," states Carnegie Wave Energy boss Michael Ottaviano. [The West Australian].

If you're unsure as to how the bobbing of the buoys creates energy, The Economist has an excellent diagram and description in their March article on the project.

Hat tip: Loren Spiekerman

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Published on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 in The New York Times - Energy & Environment
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