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Perth inventor harnesses wave power for a cleaner future.

glen-ryan-wave-power-article-730x410px© Glen Ryan

Wave power was once almost the forgotten source of renewable energy. For decades experts focused on technology to harness energy from the sun and wind while waves were the poor cousin because of the unforgiving nature of the resource. Not anymore. It’s now being touted as more predictable and consistent and engineers like Glen Ryan and his brother Shawn are at the forefront of the push to tap into the power of waves. The Perth inventors were named this year as one of the five winners of GE’s ecomagination Challenge. Glen talks about their unique technology and the need to tackle climate change.

I had developed some wind technology and then later worked on developing wind farm projects. But I was compelled by the concept of harnessing the energy from waves so I started to focus my attention there. I also managed to convince my brother Shawn to partner up with me and we set up Bombora Wave Power. I can’t remember when the exact idea for my wave technology popped into my head I guess it was about six or seven years ago. And we have methodically refined the design over that time to where it is today.

The Perth inventors were named this year as one of the five winners of GE’s ecomagination Challenge. Glen talks about their unique technology and the need to tackle climate change. I had developed some wind technology and then later worked on developing wind farm projects. But I was compelled by the concept of harnessing the energy from waves so I started to focus my attention there. I also managed to convince my brother Shawn to partner up with me and we set up Bombora Wave Power. I can’t remember when the exact idea for my wave technology popped into my head I guess it was about six or seven years ago. And we have methodically refined the design over that time to where it is today.

The industry is still in its infancy. There are over 200 different designs and devices out there to extract energy out of waves. No one technology has emerged as the best way to go. It may be that three different leading technologies emerge because there are three separate environments for wave energy – off shore, near shore, and on shore.

There are over 200 different designs and devices out there to extract energy out of waves.

Ours works in the near shore environment, in four to ten metres of water depth, and there are very few applications that actually work in that environment. Bombora’s device operates much like a series of foot pumps enclosed in a membrane, pressurising air to drive a turbine and generate electricity as the wave passes. It’s significantly different and innovative compared to all the other technologies out there.

Each Bombora device could power up to 500 homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3300 tonnes annually. We’ve got basically a two year plan to complete detailed engineering and additional tank and field testing before we then go out and raise more funds to build a full scale unit. We hope to build that full scale commercial demonstrator in Western Australia in 2017.

We believe our configuration will have greater capacity and predictability than other renewable resources; however we see all of them including wave as being required to meet the future energy challenges. I’ve been passionate about tackling climate change and behaviours towards excessive consumption and excessive waste for some time. That’s the whole reason I’m in this game.

I’ve had to assess where I can exert my greatest influence and apply my resources in trying to combat some of these really significant issues and that’s why I have chosen to develop our wave energy technology. The opportunity is massive. Each one of our devices could supply electricity while reducing carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 825 cars of the road each year. We will ultimately be looking to deploy thousands of these devices each year.

Show your support for renewable energy by signing our Seize Your Power pledge now and if you’re in Australia, make sure you connect to the 2 Degrees Project to see how close you are to climate change.

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