experimental electricity generator powered by waves has
disappeared off the coast of Po Toi island just one day after
its French inventor installed it.
believes the 27.5-metre-long, $100,000 stainless steel and
polyfoam machine could have been stolen by mainland thieves on
47, had hoped to reveal the Motorwave to the media and
potential investors later this month.
He has vowed to
rebuild a cheaper plain steel version of the prototype which
he plans to launch off Po Toi at the end of this month.
He said if the
experiment was successful, it would provide electricity and
clean drinking water to the residents of the sparsely
populated island, which is not connected to Hong Kong's power
grid and gets its electricity supply from diesel generators.
"I went to
see the people of Po Toi and explained my technology to them.
They were very enthusiastic," said Mr Gambarota, whose
usual job involves making toys, including lollipops that light
which he has patented and hopes to eventually launch in an
initial public offering on the Nasdaq exchange, was a
prototype built to demonstrate how the energy of waves could
generate electricity at a cost of just one cent per kWh. His
self-funded project was supported by the Marine Department and
researchers at Hong Kong University's mechanical engineering
Residents at Po
Toi had just one day to admire the distinctive-looking
equipment before it was stolen.
Mr Gambarota and
colleagues spent most of the day assembling the machine and
planned to bring it back to shore each day. But when they
realised it was too heavy and unwieldy to bring back, they
anchored it and left it bobbing gently in the waters off Po
Toi. "We'd intended to go back the next day, but
fishermen from Po Toi told us there was no more machine. We
got a boat and looked around, but there was no trace of it,"
While he had no
proof it was stolen, he felt someone would have spotted it by
now if it had drifted away.
"It's not a
small object and it's quite unusual looking. It's 27.5 metres
long by 3 metres wide. It's on floaters, so it can't sink. The
floats are polyfoam, which can't be deflated," he said.
He said he had
heard that boats and other equipment at Po Toi had been stolen
by mainland thieves over the years.
South Divisional Commander Mark Taylor said police and Marine
Department patrol boats had searched the area for the
equipment, but it was nowhere to be found.
He said there
had not been a marked rise in the number of thefts at Po Toi
and most of the marine thefts in the outlying islands occurred
on Lamma, Cheung Chau and the Soko islands.
take two or three large fishing boats to steal it. Someone
would surely have noticed that," he said. "The types
of vessels around at the time and on our radar were sampans.
It would not be possible for them to drag something of that
Story | Next