A tiny Israeli company has developed a product that can create clean green electricity, do so inexpensively, and that can be used by any country that has a coastline. Will this technology improve the lives of billions of people? Will it revolutionize business? Even under the most optimistic circumstances this will not happen overnight. But early indications are that the technology works, and a growing number of countries around the world are taking a close look.
Eco Wave Power has patented a technology that can create green power from the movement of waves in the oceans and seas. It is already producing power for the grid in Gibraltar, and is about to be used in Israel as part of a joint venture with the utility EDF. In addition, the company is preparing for its technology to be used in Portugal, Ireland, Scotland among other countries.
A Better Idea
There is no shortage of ideas for developing clean, green energy from renewable sources. For the most part, these are solar, wind, or hydro power. However, despite all of the efforts and investments, these sources still generate only a small percentage of the overall power supply. Trying to generate power from ocean waves has been even more disappointing.
But Inna Braverman, Eco Wave’s CEO, is confident that ocean waves will prove to be an important source of power for the world and that her company will play a role in this.
Getting power from ocean and sea waves is not a new idea - a number of entrepreneurs have pursued this approach. But there was a major problem they could not overcome. Ocean waves can reach tsunami heights, and when they come crashing down, they destroy the energy-producing devices that are in their way.
At least two companies have attempted to develop wave power but were not able to solve this problem and are no longer in business. And insurance companies are either unwilling to insure such facilities or do so at a prohibitively high cost.
There was another problem, too. While one would imagine that environmentalists would enthusiastically support projects like these, they objected because these facilities disturbed the natural marine environment on the ocean floor.
Braverman had an idea to get around these difficulties: install “floaters” on existing manmade structures in the oceans, such as piers, jetties, and breakers. As the waves moved, the floaters would spin a generator and turn this motion into electricity. The main energy-creating equipment, with their delicate computers and related equipment, remained safely on land. This approach is cost-effective, simpler than the failed wave power systems attempted in the past, and reliable.
Eco Wave says it has the only grid-connected wave energy system in the world. The company adds that there are a substantial number of projects in their pipeline.
Turning The Power On
Eco Wave is a very small company; it has only 11 employees. Nevertheless, it has raised $13.6 million in an offering in July 2019; the shares are listed on the Nasdaq First North Stockholm system. Proceeds of the offering are being used to further develop the facility in Gibraltar which currently provides 100 kilowatts of energy --enough to power up to 100 households. The company has a contract to provide Gibraltar with five megawatts of power, which is enough to supply 15% of that island’s energy needs.
Construction has begun on another facility, this one in Jaffa. Initially, it will be used for R&D and to demonstrate the system to investors and potential partners. Eventually, however, it will generate up to five megawatts of power.
And Eco Wave is planning additional sites as well. The company is negotiating deals for a 4.1-megawatt installation in Mexico and a four-location 20-megawatt project in Portugal. Portugal hopes that wave power will ultimately supply 25% of its annual power consumption.
“There is a potential to install three to four gigawatts of wave power capacity in Portugal alone,” Braverman says.
In theory, the technology could be used along any coastline that has waves of at least a half meter (about 20 inches). If wave power were implemented by every country that has a coastline, theoretically it could generate twice the amount of electricity currently created by all energy sources around the world.
A Story For The Books
Eco Wave’s story is exciting, but the one of its CEO is even more compelling. When Inna Braverman was two weeks old, her family lived in Kiev, near the Chernobyl nuclear plant. In 1986, that powerplant melted down. Inna inhaled air tinged with radioactive dust and stopped breathing.
“I went into full respiratory arrest,” she told ISRAEL21c. Her mother, a nurse, noticed what was happening and administered CPR, saving the infant’s life.
Four years later, her family moved to Israel, but Inna was sick. “I’d get blue marks on my body, as if I’d been hit,” she recalled. Fortunately, the effects of the radiation wore off and she matured into a healthy woman.
“I got a second chance,” she says. “I grew up knowing that I must do something different, something big with my life. If Chernobyl was all about producing energy in an unsafe way, I wondered whether there was a cleaner way to harness electricity.”
Founded in Tel Aviv in 2011, Eco Wave’s technology has won praise from a variety of respected authorities. The Chief Scientist of the Energy Ministry in Israel recognized their “pioneering technology,” and the company received an “Efficient Solution” designation from the Solar Impulse Foundation.
The UN awarded Eco Wave a Global Climate Action award in 2019. And the company received grants from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 fund and the Israel Energy Ministry.
Everyone knows that waves can destroy. Wave Power is teaching the world they can also build.