Seen in the video above is Anaconda, a new system for harvesting energy from the ocean's waves. The 8-meter long, water-filled rubber "snake" is a prototype of a 200 meter version that the developers, Atkins Global, hopes will generate the energy required to power 1000 homes. The device is currently under testing in Gosport, UK and Checkmate Seaenergy hopes to bring it to market by 2014. I was surprised to learn that one of the big challenges to harvesting tidal wave energy is that the mechanical devices don't tend to last long because they get so abused by the ocean.
From New Scientist:
(As the Anaconda moves, it forms "bulge waves") similar to those that pass through the human circulatory system and can be felt as the pulse in the wrist and neck, says Rod Rainey of Atkins Global, co-inventor of the Anaconda. When each bulge wave reaches the end of the snake it keeps a turbine spinning to generate electricity.
The snake is made from a rubber-based material similar to that used to make dracones – flexible containers that are filled with diesel or water and towed behind ships for quick and cheap transportation.
Other than the turbine, Anaconda has no moving parts and unlike other wave power devices it needs only one tether to the ocean floor. That lowers construction costs and reduces the need for maintenance – an expensive undertaking in offshore settings where corrosion and accessibility are problems, explains Rainey.