In Dartmouth, in the UK, technicians are working on a sort of “aquatic bicycle pump” which could be the future of renewable energy. In tests, the Searaser has produced enough energy to power a light bulb, but this is only a prototype and the finished Searaser will be around 13 times bigger than this.
Alvin Smith, the inventor of Searaser said: “It is really only a bicycle pump with a float on it. As this pump goes up and down it sucks sea water and pumps sea water out, purely through the action of the waves.”
He came up with the idea about 10 years ago while playing with an inflatable ball in a swimming pool. Searaser pumps seawater using a vertical piston between two buoys – one on the surface of the water, the other suspended underwater and tethered to a weight on the seabed.
Alvin Smith explained: “You have got the Searaser in the water that will be operated by the waves and swell, anything from half a metre swell or more it will work. You pump it to a tank or reservoirs then you can hydro on demand electricity through your turbine.”
As the ocean swell moves the buoys up and down, the piston works like a pump, sending seawater through a pipe to an onshore turbine to produce electricity.or to a coastal storage reservoir. It can then be released through a generator as required. The ideal site for the machines is in water about 25m deep near a cliff face.
Alvin Smith says that the most important aspect of Searaser is that it means low-carbon energy can be stored in reservoirs on land and then released when needed, unlike energy from many renewable sources, which is only available intermittently.