Researchers at IIT Madras have devised and tested a method for generating power from seawaves.
The Sindhuja-I system was deployed by the researchers about six kilometres off the coast of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, where the sea is roughly 20 metres deep. Sindhuja-I can now generate 100 watts of power. In the following three years, it will be ramped up to create one megawatt of electricity.
Currently, using wave power to power a metropolis like Chennai or a tiny portion of it would be prohibitively expensive, whereas using traditional energy sources would be far less expensive. However, for remote applications such as on islands and offshore areas, the cost of carrying power over the water may be more than the cost of producing electricity from waves at the spot,” Abdus Samad, the study’s lead author, told indianexpress.com. Samad is a professor at IIT Madras’ Department of Ocean Engineering.
Sindhuja-I consists of a buoy, a spar, and an electrical module. The buoy moves up and down as the waves move up and down. The spar will be able to slip through the opening in the centre of this buoy. To prevent the spar from being disturbed by the waves, it is attached to the bottom. The waves produce a relative motion between the buoy and the spar when the buoy moves but the spar does not. This relative movement is used by a generator to create energy.
However, constructing such a complicated system in an offshore site has its own set of obstacles. For example, the quantity of energy created by wind energy varies during the day and throughout the year as the environment changes.
Wave height and period alter with the seasons. When the weather is quiet, it is fine if the system does not generate energy. “”It is critical that the system can resist hard weather since it is pointless to invest so much in a system if it is carried away during terrible weather,” Samad explained.
This is also why the researchers tested the system in November, when the IMD (India Meteorological Department) issued a red signal for areas in Tamil Nadu. “We were pleasantly surprised to see that our systems operated admirably and weren’t negatively affected by the tough conditions,” he continued.
As the system is still in its infancy, no gadgets are currently consuming the electricity provided by it. By December 2023, the research team plans to build a remote water desalination system as well as a surveillance camera at the site. It also plans to do further testing to better understand how to deal with fluctuations in electricity generation caused by weather events.
This wave energy system is being developed at a time when there is growing global interest in the possibilities of harnessing waves to create power. The US Department of Energy offered a $25 million award to firms showcasing technology that may use waves to create power in January of this year. By 2025, the European Union wants to produce 10% of the region’s electricity consumption using ocean energy.
While the wave energy generating device created by IIT Madras researchers employs a technique known as “point absorber wave energy converter,” it is simply one of several similar technologies being researched by corporations across the world. The Islay LIMPET, the world’s first grid-connected wave energy power device, was installed in 2000 and employs a shoreline device that generates electricity using “Oscillating Water Column” technology. It was eventually deactivated in 2018. However, Samad believes that such capacity of the system for Indian coasts is still a long way off.

IIT Madras researchers create and install a wave energy generator off the coast of Tamil Nadu.

Researchers at IIT Madras have devised and tested a method for generating power from seawaves.
The Sindhuja-I system was deployed by the researchers about six kilometres off the coast of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, where the sea is roughly 20 metres deep. Sindhuja-I can now generate 100 watts of power. In the following three years, it will be ramped up to create one megawatt of electricity.
Currently, using wave power to power a metropolis like Chennai or a tiny portion of it would be prohibitively expensive, whereas using traditional energy sources would be far less expensive. However, for remote applications such as on islands and offshore areas, the cost of carrying power over the water may be more than the cost of producing electricity from waves at the spot,” Abdus Samad, the study’s lead author, told indianexpress.com. Samad is a professor at IIT Madras’ Department of Ocean Engineering.
Sindhuja-I consists of a buoy, a spar, and an electrical module. The buoy moves up and down as the waves move up and down. The spar will be able to slip through the opening in the centre of this buoy. To prevent the spar from being disturbed by the waves, it is attached to the bottom. The waves produce a relative motion between the buoy and the spar when the buoy moves but the spar does not. This relative movement is used by a generator to create energy.
However, constructing such a complicated system in an offshore site has its own set of obstacles. For example, the quantity of energy created by wind energy varies during the day and throughout the year as the environment changes.
Wave height and period alter with the seasons. When the weather is quiet, it is fine if the system does not generate energy. “”It is critical that the system can resist hard weather since it is pointless to invest so much in a system if it is carried away during terrible weather,” Samad explained.
This is also why the researchers tested the system in November, when the IMD (India Meteorological Department) issued a red signal for areas in Tamil Nadu. “We were pleasantly surprised to see that our systems operated admirably and weren’t negatively affected by the tough conditions,” he continued.
As the system is still in its infancy, no gadgets are currently consuming the electricity provided by it. By December 2023, the research team plans to build a remote water desalination system as well as a surveillance camera at the site. It also plans to do further testing to better understand how to deal with fluctuations in electricity generation caused by weather events.
This wave energy system is being developed at a time when there is growing global interest in the possibilities of harnessing waves to create power. The US Department of Energy offered a $25 million award to firms showcasing technology that may use waves to create power in January of this year. By 2025, the European Union wants to produce 10% of the region’s electricity consumption using ocean energy.
While the wave energy generating device created by IIT Madras researchers employs a technique known as “point absorber wave energy converter,” it is simply one of several similar technologies being researched by corporations across the world. The Islay LIMPET, the world’s first grid-connected wave energy power device, was installed in 2000 and employs a shoreline device that generates electricity using “Oscillating Water Column” technology. It was eventually deactivated in 2018. However, Samad believes that such capacity of the system for Indian coasts is still a long way off.

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