Wave energy is the biggest yet unutilized renewable energy resource, although wave-harnessing has been attempted since the 1970s. Finnish AW-Energy Oy is in the process of building a testing plant in Portugal.
The plant utilizes the surge phenomenon found on ocean coasts and should produce energy for 250 households when the 300 kilowatt device is operational, which is scheduled for 2011. Anchored to the sea bed, the WaveRoller pumps high-pressure water through a coastal turbine.
AW-Energy CEO John Liljelund expects high user hours from the test station. The target of 30 % utilization period of maximum load would give production costs of approximately 400 euro per megawatt hour. This would bring wave power on a par with wind power, and surpass solar power. The visual drawbacks and environmental impact of the WaveRoller are also significantly smaller than for instance those of offshore wind farms.