The Protean wave energy converter (WEC) is a surface-floating buoy tethered to the seabed by several cables. Each cable passes over a pulley and connects to a counterweight. Wave action causes the buoy to move in six different ways – up and down, back-and-forth, side-to-side, etc – each of which causes the mooring cables to shorten and lengthen and the pulleys to rotate. Drive shafts connect the pulleys to the chosen power generation devices. These can be electricity generators, water pumps or hydraulic systems.

Protean claims that, as its system can capture energy from the full range of buoy movements, it can generate more power from a smaller device than similar technologies can. Another advantage is that it can operate in a wide range of water depths. The company is targeting an electricity generation cost in the range of $100 – $130 per MWh.

R&D commenced in 2004 and a 1.5m wide prototype tested was in 2008. In August 2014 Protean Energy Australia Ptd Ltd (PEA) was acquired by Stonehenge Metals, which will undertake further refinement and testing of the Protean WEC. It then aims to build commercial power generation arrays for small to medium customers.

See all of Australia’s Marvellous Menagerie Of Wave Power Machines

All images: Stonehenge Metals

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