In October, the first wave power plant on the American continent will commence operations on a trial basis in the northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará.
Two of the future plant’s modules will be installed as part of an experimental project in the port of Pecém, 60 kilometers from the state capital, Fortaleza.
The project is being developed by the Coordination of the Post-Graduate Engineering Program (Coppe) of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and Eletrobrás, in partnership with the Ceará state government.
Installation of the plant still depends on the approval of the Financial Agency for Studies and Projects (Finep), which should pay for half of the US$ 1.2 million (3.5 million reais) total investment.
Initially, only 50 KW will be generated, electricity for around 20 families, according to Professor Segen Farid Estefen, coordinator of the UFRJ’s Ocean Engineering program.
Within two years, when it is ready, the plant will be capable of generating 500 KW.
The apparatus functions in the following manner: The waves move flotation devices through mechanical arms that, in turn, push the plant’s hydraulic pumps. Closed-circuit tubing raises the water pressure to the equivalent of a 500-meter high waterfall. This pressure drives the turbine and the generator that produces electricity.
Although no plant of this type is operating commercially, the tendency to use ocean waves to generate electricity is being developed in other countries, such as Japan, Denmark, Portugal, Australia, India, and China.
According to the coordinator of the project, the technology that is being used in Brazil is 100% Brazilian. Estefen recalls that Brazil has 8.5 thousand kilometers of coastline and that international experts believe that, if all the energy available in ocean waves were harnessed, the supply would be sufficient for the entire planet.
“The technology is recent, which is why wave power plants have still not been installed commercially. We have the chance to compete for a share of this market, because we are developing the technology, in addition to the technical training, to produce all the components of wave power stations in Brazil,” Estefen explains.