Wave power machine resembles giant swimming sea snake

A "completely new kind of wave power machine" which resembles a giant swimming sea-snake is being tested in Gosport, Hampshire. The device could be generating energy off the coast of the UK within five years, its developers have said.

A "completely new kind of wave power machine" which resembles a giant swimming sea-snake is being tested in Gosport, Hampshire. The device could be generating energy off the coast of the UK within five years, its developers have said.

Each "anaconda", a device which could be up to 200 metres long and made almost entirely of a rubber tube, could be capable of producing 1MW (megawatt) of power.

The plan is to have "shoals" or "schools" of the devices around the coast where they would be harnessed to "swim" just below the surface.

Groups of 50 anacondas could each generate enough electricity to power 50,000 homes at an "excitingly low" cost, developers at Checkmate Group said.

A nine-metre version of the anaconda is in the final stage of "proof of concept" testing at a 270 metre wave test tank run by QinetiQ in Gosport.

The test tank is the largest in the UK and can simulate the strength and frequency of the ocean waves the device would encounter in the sea.

Checkmate hopes to be testing full-scale devices in the ocean within three years, with the first anacondas in commercial production and deployed off the coast by 2014.

The anaconda is harnessed to the sea floor, and unlike other wave energy machines "swims" head-on to the waves, like a ship in a storm.

The waves in the sea stimulate a "bulge wave" which passes down the tube like a pulse of blood in an artery, gathering energy to drive a turbine in its tail. The electricity generated by the turbine would be captured and carried to shore by cables.

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