crude oil prices soaring, a local inventor says wave power is
the SAR's answer for cheap and clean electricity.
Lucien Gambarota has
worked in his lab for 15 years, inventing devices of every
shape and function, including a candy that lights up when you
chew it. Now he claims he has developed a process that can
solve the world energy crisis by harnessing the hidden power
of ocean waves.
He isn't alone. Energy
companies in Norway, Scotland and the United States are
researching wave energy. Aqua Energy Group, a Seattle,
Washington company, will start an experimental version of a
device this year. The United Kingdom has designated a section
of its offshore areas for developing ``wave farming.''
Gambarota's device uses
wave action to crank a uni-directional gear, like a bike
pedal, generating the power.
``A 10 centimeter wave
can send a jet of water twenty meters into the air,'' he says,
explaining how the force could generate electricity in
University of Hong Kong
mechanical engineering researcher Dennis Leung showed The
Standard a prototype of Gambarota's device, in which a
thin metal tube connects small PVC buoys, one pair per
segment, to a string of cable that would transfer power to
land. The equation is simple: mass of water movement increased
by number of segments and height of waves equals energy. And
lots of it, potentially.
CLP's Ngan Chi-cheung,
an innovation architect at the company's research institute,
says it's not CLP's job to develop the technology to take
advantage of wave power, which he says is costly. ``The
technology is not proven,'' he says. ``We need to understand
the feasibility before we can commit any new figures.''
Hong Kong depends
entirely on imports of energy resources like coal, natural gas
``Our aim is to have
between one and two per cent of Hong Kong's total electricity
supply met by power generated from renewable sources by the
year 2012,'' said Monica Ko, a spokeswoman for the
Environmental Protection Department.
Ngan showed information
available on the Internet that suggests wave power energy
would have an initial startup cost of about US$4,300
(HK$33,540) a kilowatt hour. CLP's Castle Peak plant has
capacity of 4,100 megawatts. Using Ngan's figures, that would
mean it could cost upwards of US$17.6 billion to start up a
wave energy platform to power the Kowloon peninsula. ``CLP is
a user of technology, we are not a developer of technology,''
Christine Loh, founder of
think-tank Civic Exchange, told Chief Executive Donald Tsang
on August 18 that Hong Kong is not doing enough to research
generating clean, cheap energy.
``This clearly is an area
where Hong Kong has the potential to be a national leader in
efficiency management but has not yet grasped the
opportunity,'' she said.
Loh thinks the
electricity suppliers could generate new methods of creating
electricity more efficiently and then sell those devices to
research features in a small - 5 percent - part of CLP's power