Energy from the sea

Friday, 24 June 2016

“Generating energy from water is a challenge, but generating it from the saltwater of the sea is an even greater one.”

– Francesco Starace, Enel Chief Executive Officer

Italy’s blue gold

With its 8,000 km-long coast, Italy is one of the European countries that can benefit the most from harnessing this innovative energy source.

Two years ago, we installed the R115 prototype in the high sea, off the shore of the island Elba, a device designed and developed by 40 South Energy: the first marine energy machine installed in the Mediterranean to be included in a national public register for marine devices.

“Totally designed in Italy, the specific features of R115 combine perfectly with the characteristics of the Mediterranean basin.”

The generator of the marine machine, placed just below the water’s surface, can very effectively harness the movement of the waves. In the case of unsuitable water conditions, the machine manages to "adopt safety measures on its own", placing itself automatically on the seabed. In addition, the materials and design make it virtually ‘invisible’ and it fits perfectly into the natural landscape.

“Once fully operational, the R115 generators can each produce approximately 220 thousand kWh per year, enough to meet the needs of over 80,000 households.”

From the University of Turin to the coast of Sicily

In Pantelleria, Sicily, the Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter (ISWEC), a new EGP project that confirmed the value of Italian excellence in the search for innovative green tech solutions, has been launched.

Made in a partnership with Wave for Energy, a spin-off of the Turin Polytechnic, ISWEC exploits the movement of the sea waves and converts it into electricity. Its metal shell contains the mechanical conversion, the cooling system, storage and electronics in a waterproof environment.

“ISWEC is an example of ‘super green technology’: no environmental impact and no exploitation of land area is needed for the installation of power generation systems.”

The prototype develops 100kW of electrical power and will soon be connected to the power grid of the Sicilian island.

Ready to explore the Ocean

Our wish to know and explore the power of the sea has pushed us all the way to the Pacific Ocean. In Chile, which has an estimated potential of about 175 GW of marine energy, we have created the Marine Energy Research and Innovation Center (MERIC), partnered with the French group DCNS.
Supporting and developing research and fieldwork in the sector of marine energy means playing a role as pioneers to open up new roads that can contribute to a sustainable future of the Andean country and be a rising global field of innovation.

“The MERIC project will bring together researchers working in six areas of activity: assessment of marine resources, site characterization, bio-fueling, bio-corrosion, environmental and social impacts, and technologies for adaptation to extreme ocean conditions.”

The Centre began operations in June 2016. With the aim of adopting an innovative and integrated approach to research and development in this sector, we planned the installation of an experimental wave energy converter that will work as a ‘testing ground’ to compare theoretical results with real data.