Italy’s ENEA continues to study harvesting hydrokinetic energy potential with PEWEC

Italy’s National Agency for New Energy Technologies (ENEA), based in Roma, Italy, in July unveiled its Pendulum Wave Energy Converter (PEWEC) wave device during ENEA’s Electric Energy from the Sea conference.

The 1:12 scale prototype on display at ENEA headquarters is the result of its collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Turin as part of a program agreement between the Ministry of Economic Development and ENEA.

PEWEC is a system similar to a floating raft that is placed in the open sea,” said Gianmaria Sannino, head of the ENEA Climate Modeling and Impacts Laboratory.

“It is a hull, like an eggshell with a pendulum to Internal that oscillates,” he said. “The relative motion between the hull and pendulum generates electricity because the pendulum is tied to a power generator.”

Sannino thinks a system of devices would allow the harvest of clean, renewable, low-cost energy from the sea. The Italian Islands, powered by expensive and polluting diesel plants, are ideal candidates for this new technology.

A 2009 study conducted by Second University of Naples (Seconda Università  degli Studi di Napoli) analyzed offshore wave energy potentials using the Italian Wave Buoys Network in seas surrounding Italy.

The annual and monthly average offshore wave power, varies between 1.6 kW/m and 9.05 kW/m.

The Adriatic Sea has an average value around 2 kW/m, the smallest value around Italian coasts as expected, according to the study. The Ionian, North and Middle Tyrrhenian seas are a bit more energetic reaching a value of about 3 kW/m, whereas the South Tyrrhenian is characterized by a value of 4 kW/m. A completely different behavior is highlighted for the Alghero buoy (northwest Sardinia Island) where the estimated power reaches up to 9 kW/m.

“The Italian wave energy potential is comparable to that of the east coast of the North Sea, since the average offshore wave power of the northwest of Sardinia is 13 kW/m and that of the northwest of Sicily is 10 kW/m,” Sannino said.

According to ENEA, it has drawn up a Mediterranean Wave Energy Atlas, a map of the area presenting the best characteristics for sea energy production. The atlas contains data on speed of currents, height of waves, and the intensity of tides.

In addition, ENEA has also developed an operating system that can predict, up to five days in advance, the greatest wave potential in the area to an accuracy of a few hundred meters. This will help estimate the potential quantity of energy fed into the electrical grid.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for

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