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Brazilian wave energy generator enables the country to assess potential capacity


Brazil’s first marine energy device was deployed at Porto do Pecém on the coast of Ceará in the northeast of the country on June 24th 2012. The prototype device was operated by the Research and Technological Development Program of the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (ANEEL) for 10 minutes, during which it generated 50 KW of power for lighting and air conditioning systems. This enabled an assessment amounting to around 87 GW of potential wave energy capacity. Of this, COPPE believes it possible to convert about 20 percent of it into electricity. This would be equal to 17 percent of the country’s total installed capacity.

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The project was part of an R&D project called “Deployment of Onshore Waves Converter Prototype on Sea Conditions of the Northeast of Brazil” which was first initiated in March 2009. It was funded by Tractebel Energia S.A., the main company involved in the project, through the Program for Research and Technological Development of the National Agency of Electrical Energy (NAEE), and supported by the government of Ceará. The University of Rio de Janeiro’s Foundation of Project Coordination, Research and Technological Studies (COPPE) also played a major role in the project, particularly with regard to its Submarine Technology Laboratory which was used to develop the device. The project ran for 36 months and cost R$ 14.4 million or US$ 3.6 million.

The prototype device consisted of two modules, each incorporating a buoy, a 22 meter long arm and a pump connected to a closed fresh water circuit. The motion of the buoys and the arms activated the hydraulic pump which then injected fresh water kept under high pressure via a hydro pneumatic accumulator and a hyperbaric chamber. This then released a stream with a pressure equivalent to a 400 meter water column which in turn operated the turbine. The device was also capable of desalinization by reverse osmosis in order to produce drinking water from the sea.

According to COPPE’s Professor Estefen Segen, the Brazilian device differs from others in that it uses a high pressure system to operate the turbine and generator, an approach developed and patented by COPPE.


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