Ocean Oasis’ Gaia system is designed to use wave power to desalinate water.
Plans to use ocean energy to desalinate water received a further boost this week, when a Norwegian firm presented a system that will be put through its paces in the waters off Gran Canaria.
In a statement on Monday, Oslo-headquartered Ocean Oasis said its wave-powered prototype device, which it described as an “offshore floating desalination plant”, was called Gaia.
The plant – which measures 10 meters in height, 7 meters in diameter and weighs around 100 tonnes – was put together in Las Palmas and will undergo testing on an oceanic platform off the Canary Islands.
Ocean Oasis said its technology would enable “the production of fresh water from ocean water by harnessing the energy of waves to carry out the desalination process and pump potable water to coastal users”.
The company said that the development of its prototype has received financial support from several organizations including Innovation Norway and the Gran Canaria Economic Promotion Society.
The main investor in Ocean Oasis is Grigg Maritime Group, headquartered in Bergen, Norway.
The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the Canary Islands Institute of Technology, the islands have been “a pioneer in the production of desalinated water at an affordable cost”.
A presentation by ITC sheds light on some of the reasons. Describing the “water peculiarity” of the Canary Islands, it refers to “structural water scarcity due to low rainfall, high soil permeability and aquifer overexploitation”.
While desalination – which multinational energy firm iberdrola Described as “the process by which dissolved mineral salts are removed from water” – seen as a useful tool when it comes to providing drinking water to countries where supply is an issue The United Nations has noted that there are significant environmental challenges associated with it.
It states that “fossil fuels are commonly used in an energy-intensive desalination process that contributes to global warming, and toxic brine pollutes coastal ecosystems.”
With the above in mind, projects to desalinate water in a more sustainable manner will become increasingly important in the coming years.
The idea of using waves to power desalination is not unique to the project being launched in the Canaries. In April, for example, the US Department of Energy winners revealed In the final stages of a competition focused on wave-driven desalination.
Back on the Canary Islands, Ocean Oasis said it is looking to build a second installation after testing at the PLOCAN facility. “In this phase, the prototype will be scaled up with the ability to produce water for consumption,” the company said.
While there is enthusiasm about the potential of ocean energy, the footprint of wave and tidal stream projects is very small compared to other renewable energy.
In the data released in March 2022, Ocean Energy Europe said 2.2 MW of tidal stream capacity was installed in Europe last year, compared to only 260 kW in 2020.
For wave power, 681 kW was installed, which OEE described as a three-fold increase. Globally, 1.38 MW of wave power will come online in 2021, while 3.12 MW of tidal flow capacity will be installed.
By comparison, Europe is set to install 17.4 gigawatts of wind power capacity in 2021, according to data from industry body WindEurope.