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Wave Buoys Multitask

CETO Underwater

Can we really harness ocean waves to make electricity? We might actually do more.

Researchers in Fremantle, Western Australia, have developed the Swiss Army Knife of wave farms: it not only generates electricity, it can also run a desalination plant - creating power and drinking water.

The technology, developed by Perth-based Carnegie Corporation, uses submerged buoys tethered to pumps, attached to the ocean floor. The buoys sway with the waves -- like kelp forests -- generating energy to pump water onto land, into the desalination plant, and into hydroelectric turbines. No oil or electricity required: Just sea water coming onshore at high pressure. Construction will start in 2009.

Interesting. But hasn't this been thought of before? It has. Wave farm ideas have floated around for decades. But none have passed the "storm" test. The difference here is technology that's BELOW the surface, avoiding the brunt of storms.

What's more, engineers can tailor the buoys to any location or water turbulence using computer models that originally designed yachts for the America's Cup race.

Just one more environmentally friendly idea sailing toward a smooth finish.

Script by Gail Davis
Copyright 2008, Catalina Island Conservancy

Image from Carnegie Corporation Limited.