“Pump to shore” technology could provide power to American seaside towns

Written By: Thatcher Michelsen October 24, 2012 0
New Jersey's extensive shoreline could be used one day to generate power for seaside communities up and down the coast.
New Jersey's extensive shoreline could be used one day to generate power for seaside communities up and down the coast.

A report from a local New Jersey newspaper highlighted the fact that town leaders in Point Pleasant Beach are exploring ways to deploy renewable energy technology to power their community.

The Asbury Park Press, in an article published October 21, stated that one of the options under consideration was a device known as a "pump to shore" generator, which utilizes the natural flow of water on beaches to create electricity. A wire connected to the machine feeds into the local grid, which would then be used to provide power to local homes and businesses. Point Pleasant Beach is currently weighing a bid from Clean Wave Energy (CWE), a company based in Surf City, North Carolina.

According to the firm's website, the average tidal flow of an American beach, which features four-foot swells in a roughly six second-long cycle, could provide up to 65 megawatts per mile of shoreline. CWE's method is a two part system. First, water is fed through a series of tubes into a facility that is situated next to the ocean. An anchored pump provides the momentum for the seawater, which travels through a traditional hydroelectric generator. Finally, the same force that pushes the water onshore is used to pull the water through another set of piping back into the ocean. This way, the firm states, minimal energy is spent creating electricity.

Point Pleasant Beach officials told the source that their concerns with the project relate primarily to construction costs. Additionally, the necessary permits and waivers from the state could put the initiative on hold for at least two or three years.

Even though the CWE design may not be deployed in this New Jersey town, it's possible that other communities along the coast could adopt this system. On its website, the firm reiterates that one megawatt of electricity is enough to power 500 nearby homes. With numbers like that, it's easy to see how other areas may want to adopt this unique form of clean energy.

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