A well-known beach in Kerala is at Kovalam. Not much is, however, known of the
fishing village at Vizhinjam, which is about a kilometer away. This fishing harbor is the site
of a uniue !emonstrations "lant that converts wave energy into electrical energy that can be
e#"orte! via the local electricity gri!. The "lant works on what is known as the $%&
"rinci"le. 'nergy is e#tracte! from the system an! use! to generate electricity by allowing
the tra""e! air to flow via a turbine. The wave "ower "lant at Vizhinjam ()igure *+ has
!emonstrate! that this is "ossible. The technology of converting wave energy into electrical
energy thus e#ists. ,n or!er to a""reciate the tremen!ous "rogress that has been achieve!
over the "ast !eca!e, it woul! be a""ro"riate to start from the beginning.
A consi!erable amount of energy is "resent in the ocean waves "oun!ing against a
breakwater. -owever, it is not from the breaking waves that the energy can best be
e#tracte!. The force of the win! blowing over the ocean.s surface generates waves. The
regular breakers seen on most beaches originate at sea an! can come from a variety of
storms. The water.s surface acts like a great conveyor belt, !elivering "ower from great
!istances. %aves vary in several ways. They vary from location to location an! also from
season to season. %here the win!s are stea!y the waves "ersist for long "erio!s of time.
%aves at !ee" sea can have a sha"e that is close to a sinusoi!al wave. As a first
a""ro#imation, the most im"ortant characteristics of wave are its height -, its "erio! T, an!
its wavelength / ()igure 0, 1&hakrabarti *2345+. The wave height is the vertical !istance
between a wave crest an! an a!jacent trough6 the wave "erio! is the time it takes to
successive crests to "ass a fi#e! "oint6 an! the wavelength is the horizontal !istance between
two crests. The wave sha"e "ro"agates unchange! in a regular manner with a "hase s"ee! c6
however, the water "articles !o not "ro"agate horizontally within wave sha"e, instea!, they
move in a circular motion. At the surface, the circular motion has a !iameter eual to wave
height, but this !ecreases away from the free surface as shown in )igure 7. An object
floating on the ocean.s surface will not be trans"orte! very much by the waves. 8ather, it
will bob u" an! !own an! !rift back an! forth as the waves "ass by. Trans"ortation of water
from one location to another is "rimarily !ue to ocean currents not ocean waves. ,t is the
"ower of the circular motion that the wave energy !evice must convert to useful energy.
&haracteristic of a wave
Variation of circular motion with !e"th
The average "ower 9 (%:m+ in a regular sine wave "er meter wave front of waves
with height - an! "erio! T can be e#"resse! as;
9 < rg0-0T:3"
%here r is the !ensity of water, g the acceleration of gravity.
-owever, in "ractice waves are far from i!eal. ,n nature, waves are irregular an! can
be !escribe! by statistical mo!els. ,f the wave con!itions are measure!, over 0= minutes for
e#am"le, the mean wave height -m an! the significant wave height -s can be calculate!.
The significant wave height is !efine! as the average of the highest 77> of the waves.
?n!er such circumstances, the wave "ower can be state! to be;
9 < =.@@ -0s Tz k%:m length of wave crest
%here Tz is the zero crossing "erio! 1&harlier, Austus *2275.
Bea waves are a mi#ture of waves of various am"litu!es an! freuencies. %ave
freuency, which is im"ortant while stu!ying hy!ro!ynamics of the oscillating water
column, is the inverse of the "erio! of the wave.
The average wave "otential along the ,n!ian coast is aroun! @-*= k%:m. ,n!ia has a
coastline of a""ro#imately 4@== km. 'ven *=> utilization woul! mean a resource of 74@= C
4@== D%.
Principle of the wave energy converter
A few hun!re! "atents have been registere! worl!wi!e on !ifferent ty"es of wave
energy converters. -owever, it is wi!ely recognize! that the only !evice that can be built to
even a mo!erate !egree of satisfaction, using "resently available construction techniues, is a
shoreline $%& (Beymour *220+. An $%& consists of a "artially submerge!, hollow
structure, which is o"en to the sea below the water line. This structure encloses a column of
air on to" of a column of water. The inci!ent waves cause the water column to rise an! fall,
which alternately com"resses an! !e"ressurizes the air column. ,f this tra""e! air is allowe!
to flow to an! from the atmos"here via a turbine, energy can be e#tracte! from the system
an! use! to generate electricity. The $%& can be re"resente! as in )igure E.
The $scillator water &olumn
Description of the wave energy plant
The ,n!ian wave energy research starte! in *237 with the formation of an inter-
!isci"linary grou" at the ,n!ian ,nstitute of Technology (,,T+, &hennai un!er the s"onsorshi"
of the Fe"artment of $cean Fevelo"ment, Government of ,n!ia.
The initial research con!ucte! by the %ave 'nergy Grou", ,,T &hennai focuse! on
the choice of the wave energy !evice (8aju, 8avin!ran *234, 8aju, 8avin!ran *232+. Hase!
on stu!ies on three ty"es of !evices, namely, !ouble float system, single float vertical
system, an! the $%& "rinci"le, it was conclu!e! that the $%& showe! the ma#imum
"romise for ,n!ia. &onseuently, !evelo"ment activities were concentrate! on this !evice
alone. Bome of the im"ortant as"ects that govern the !esign of a wave energy "lant are
!iscusse! below.
The $%& wave energy !evice is a resonating !evice, which can be tune! to any
"re!ominant freuency of the wave by altering the !imensions of the !evice. As far as
hy!ro!ynamic as"ects were concerne!, the focus was on theoretical an! e#"erimental stu!ies
for the !evelo"ment of sha"e an! o"timum !imensions of the $%& !evice. Theoretical
analysis was !one for a two-!imensional mo!el with the assum"tion of "otential flow
con!itions. )or com"aring the theoretical "re!ictions, mo!els were teste! un!er two-
!imensional wave con!itions. Various mo!els of !ifferent sizes were fabricate! an! teste!
by the "roject grou" to fin! the influence of !ifferent geometries on the hy!ro!ynamic
"erformance of $%&. These !ifferent mo!els having rectangular an! curve! back walls,
streamline! entry, etc. were teste! in a 7= cm narrow wave flume, 2= cm wi!e wave flume, 0
m an! E m flumes (Koola *22=+. '#"erimental o"timization was also !one with the
inclusion of "arallel gui!e walls for the waves to enter the !evice. This mo!el (harbour
conce"t+ was also teste! un!er ran!om con!itions. A com"arative "erformance of various
mo!els (8aju, 8avin!ran *232+ is shown in )igure @.
&om"arative -y!ro!ynamic 9erformance of various mo!els
Structural design
The structural !esign of an $%& "rototy"e "ossesses several "roblems !ue to its
com"le# geometry. '#"eriments on a *;0@ scale mo!el were carrie! out to !etermine the
forces on the caisson un!er o"erating con!itions. The "arameters such as wave im"act
"ressures, forces, an! moments were measure! for fully o"ene! an! fully close! con!itions
of the air chamber of the $%&. ,t was foun! that the shorewar! force on the back wall is
always more than the seawar! force.
Design and installation of caisson (December 1990
The caisson is "re!ominantly subjecte! to wave forces. The wave forces were
estimate! by treating the caisson as a vertical wall obstruction for the waves. The highest
"robably non-breaking wave force was *0== tones. The highest "robable breaking wave was
estimate! to be 4 m. The force intensity has a "eak of *== tones : m0. The $%& with the
harbor was built as a cellular concrete caisson. The !esign is of the gravity foun!ation ty"e.
The concrete structure weighs 7=== tones an! is further ballaste! in its hollow chambers
using about 7=== tones of san!. This concrete ballaste! caisson is seate! on a "re"are!
rubble be!. The to" of the &%& chamber is a !ouble cubic curve! shell in concrete *= #
4.4@ m at the bottom, re!ucing to 0.= m circle at the to" an! 7.= m high to su""ort the "ower
mo!ule. Fetails about the construction like seabe! "re"aration, towing, an! seating can be
foun! in 8aju, Aayakumar, Neelamani (*220+. )igure I a shows the cross-sectional "lan of
the caisson. )igure I b shows the cross-section of the wave energy !evice an! breakwater
&ross Bectional "lan of &aisson
&ross Bection of wave energy !evice an! breakwater
!he power module ("ctober 1991
)or conversion of "neumatic energy from the $%& to mechanical energy, the use of
air turbines is reuire!. Two turbine mo!els with 0I7 mm !iameter rotor were fabricate!
with bla!es of *== mm an! I@ mm chor!s. They were teste! in a turbine casing with
facilities for measurements of air velocity an! "ressure across the ra!ius as well as starting
torue an! s"ee!. The tests were !one with stea!y uni!irectional airflow.
The "rototy"e turbine !esign s"ecifications were as follows;
 Ty"e &onstant chor!, wells
 9rofile NA&A ==0*
 &hor! 73= mm
 No. $f rotor bla!es 3
 -ub:ti" ratio =.I
The turbine was cou"le! !irectly to a **= k% suirrel cage in!uction generator with a
rate! s"ee! of *=== rotations "er minute (r"m+ an! sli" of eight "er cent. The generator was
connecte! to the shore transformer through a I== m long cable, which runs along the
breakwater u" to its ti" an! along the bri!ge to the "ower mo!ule. The "lant was first
commissione! in $ctober *22*. )igure 4 shows a ty"ical "ower out"ut to the gri!. /arge
fluctuations in the "ower "um"e! to the

Ty"ical 9ower out"ut to gri!-first mo!ule ($ctober *22*+
Improvement leading to the second power module
$n evaluation of the "lant o"eration !ata several areas for im"rovement were note!.
The "ower mo!ule !esigne! for a "eak "ower of *@= k%e ha! large no loa! losses an!
win!age losses amounting to almost *@ k%. %hen the instantaneous wave "ower was low
the turbine coul! not meet even the no-loa! losses. -ence, the system woul! motor, !rawing
"ower from the gri!. This resulte! in "oor long-term efficiency of the wave "ower "lant.
Also, the suirrel cage in!uction generator ha! a limite! variation in s"ee! u" to eight "er
cent of synchronous s"ee!. The vertical a#is assembly of the "ower mo!ule "ose! a lot of
o"erational an! maintenance "roblems. Hase! on the e#"erience gaine! from the
"erformance monitoring of the first mo!ule, several im"rovement were incor"orate! in the
new mo!ule (8avin!ran, 9athak, Koola, /atha *22@+ given below;
*. A ta"ere! chor! !esign was chosen for the turbine bla!es, as o""ose! to the earlier
constant chor! !esign. The !ifferences in the constant an! ta"ere! chor! %ells. turbines
can be a""reciate! from )igures 3a-3c. -ere VA8& refers to the ta"ere! chor! !esign
an! ===0* to the constant chor! one. The results in )igures 3b an! 3c are base! on
mo!el tests in the laboratory at ,,T, &hennai
0. Bince the wave "ower is very high !uring monsoon an! relatively low !uring off-
monsoon months, two horizontal a#is thrust o""osing turbine rotors were cou"le! to an
electrical generator on a common shaft, each having "eak installe! ca"acity of @@ k%.
The rationale behin! this was that one mo!ule woul! be run !uring non-monsoon times
an! both !uring the "eak season.
7. The electrical generator was a sli"-ring in!uction machine in lieu of the earlier suirrel
cage machine.
$ne such "ower mo!ule was !esigne! an! installe! at Vizhinjam in A"ril *22I.
,m"rovements were also effecte! in the choice of instrumentation an! the !ata acuisition
system. The !esign of the control "anel reflecte! a number of changes for o"erational
reasons. A case was mo!e for incor"orating a current controller on the stator of the electrical
machine in or!er to re!uce then J"eak to average ratio. of electrical "ower e#"orte! to the
gri!. ,t was aroun! this time that the National ,nstitute of $cean Technology (N,$T+ was
entruste! the res"onsibility of continuing the research on wave energy.
Performance #nalysis of the Second power module
Hefore the wave "ower system com"onent efficiencies are analyze!, it is im"ortant to
un!erstan! the "ower conversion chain from wave to wire (,noue, Kaneko, Betoguchi,
Baruwatari *233+. The $%& caisson into "neumatic energy converts the energy in the
waves. The "ower take-off mechanism is the %ells turbine connecte! to a generator. The
generator !elivers the electrical "ower to the gri!. A "art of the electrical "ower is also
!issi"ate! in the resistances e#ternally connecte! to the rotor of the generator. The
theoretical ma#imum conversion efficiency of the caisson (wave to "neumatic+ at any given
"erio! (freuency+ of the incoming wave is !etermine! "urely by its geometry, the !irection
of the wave, an! an o"timum value of the J!am"ing. on the caisson. ,n this case the turbine
an! the generator !etermine the !am"ing. This value of the o"timum !am"ing is freuency
!e"en!ent. Thus, the conversion efficiency of the caisson un!er o"erating con!itions is
governe! by the loa! characteristics. The ma#imum average ca"acity of the caisson is
estimate! to be in e#cess of 0E= k% un!er o"timum loa! con!itions. This estimate is base!
on the average monsoon in"ut wave con!ition of 0= k%:m, *= m caisson o"ening, an! an
average ca"ture factor of *.0 over the freuency range of interest. Table * summarizes the
"rinci"al features of the energy conversion chain.
Almost two hun!re! runs were ma!e un!er varying wave climates with various
combinations of e#ternal resistances an! butterfly valve "ositions in or!er to characterize
their influence on "lant "erformance. ,n what follows, a summary of the fin!ings is
'fficiencies as function of wave "ower-Becon! mo!ule
Sub$System efficiencies
the efficiencies of the various subcom"onents of the "ower "lant as a function of inci!ent
wave "ower as measure! !uring its o"eration from A"ril *22I to Auly *22I are shown in
)igure 2. The tren!s shown re"resent average values of several runs. A !ro" in efficiency
for increasing inci!ent energy is "lainly evi!ent. ,t is note! here that the nine-month average
value of the inci!ent wave "ower is *= k%:m an! "eak monsoon average is 0= k%:m. )rom
)igure 2 it is a""arent that the single largest contribution to the overall low efficiency comes
from the turbine.
)rom the analysis of *3E !ata sets, for a single mo!ule of @@ k% ("eak+ ca"acity, the
mean caisson efficiency is =.@ with stan!ar! !eviation =.0, the mean mechanical efficiency is
=.0@ with stan!ar! !eviation =.=2, an! the mean electrical efficiency is =.@ with stan!ar!
!eviation =.=3. The mean overall efficiency is =.=I with stan!ar! !eviation =.=0.
Summary of principles of the energy conversion chain
Improvements with increased slip
#s the out"ut from the "lant is limite! by the turbine, it stan!s to reason that efforts must be
!irecte! towar!s increasing the absolute value of the efficiency an! the !ynamic range over
which the efficiency remains high. ,t is known that the best average efficiency e#"ecte! of a
%ells turbine un!er oscillating flow con!itions is about E=>. )rom )igure 2 it is seen that
such a value has in!ee! been obtaine! from the turbine. ?nfortunately, this value occurs at
an average "neumatic in"ut of only about 0= k%. This is turn corres"on!s to an average
wave "ower of about 7 k%:m which corres"on!s to off monsoon calm sea con!itions. Thus,
the only o"tion left is to increase the !ynamic range of the turbine. ,ncreasing the e#ternal
resistance connecte! across the rotor can !o this. )igure *= brings out this effect clearly. ,t is
seen that the average "ower obtainable from the turbine increases from 4 k% at 0= k% mean
air "ower to about ** k% at an air in"ut of 7= k%. -owever, the "enalty for further increase
in the sli" is the ,08 losses in the rotor resistances an! a "ossibility of the turbine an! the
generator crossing the safe s"ee! limit. %hat is reuire! is an intelligent controller for
switching of the rotor resistances, e#"laine! in the ne#t section.
Improvements with controller
A controller that can ma#imize the "ower out"ut from the "lant base! on switching of the
rotor resistances was !esigne!, fabricate!, an! teste! at Vizhinjam. ,t reuires an e#ternal
resistance with a number of ta""ings. The controller actions essentially involve the shorting
of a "ortion of the e#ternally connecte! rotor resistance !e"en!ing on the s"ee!. The
resistance value is so chosen that the "lant behave as a high sli" machine, thus enabling the
turbine to freely ri!e the wave. ,n case the s"ee! e#cee!s a "reset u""er limit, the e#ternal
resistance is re!uce!.
,t has been observe! that an o"timum choice of the resistance values along with the
s"ee! settings results in substantial im"rovements in the efficiency of the "lant ()igure **+.
)igure *0 shows the efficiency of the "lant as a function of inci!ent wave "ower. The
increase in the absolute value of the "ower is shown in )igure *7 (9athak, Aayashankar,
!ype of energy
Structure % device &fficiency
%ave to "neumatic $scillating water column
)reuency an! loa!
(turbine K generator+ !e"en!ent
9neumatic to mechanical %ells turbine
Non-linear, loa! (generator+
Dechanical to electrical Bli"-ring in!uction generator /inear system
Kathiroli *22I+. ,t can be seen that the im"rovement is not high at low wave climate.
-owever, the a""arent tren! of very low efficiency (!ue to stalling+ can be arreste! for
higher in"ut wave con!itions

'ffect of increase of rotor resistance on "lant efficiency
. "verall plant efficiency as a function of wave power
,ncrease in absolute value "ower
'urrent programme (#pril 199( onwards
The conversion of wave energy to electrical energy occurs with the oscillating airflow as
an interme!iate stage. &onventional turbines have never ha! to !eal with such an in"ut.
&onsi!ering this as"ect, what has been achieve! to !ate is remarkable. Bco"e for
im"rovement always e#ists an! efforts have been !irecte! towar!s im"roving the "neumatic
to mechanical energy conversion "rocess. 8esearch in Aa"an ha! in!icate! that a s"ecial
im"ulse turbine offers the best characteristics of increase! !ynamic range cou"le! with high
average efficiencies (Dae!a *22@+. Buch a turbine was manufacture! an! will form the
"ower mo!ule for the year *224. The im"ulse turbine was commissione! in A"ril *224 an!
the "reliminary results show that the faith "lace! in it has not been belie!.
)uture directions for wave energy e*ploitation
At "resent, more than 3=> cost of the wave energy "lant is !ue to civil construction
(concrete caissons+. &onsi!erable cost savings can be obtaine! using the conce"t of multi-
functional breakwaters wherein a "ower mo!ule forms an incremental a!!ition to a caisson
breakwater. ,t is "ro"ose! to !emonstrate the utility of this conce"t with the !esign an!
construction of a breakwater with a number of "ower mo!ules. ,n a!!ition, it is
uneconomical to construct a bottom stan!ing caisson structure in !ee"er water where energy
"otential is high. Daking the structure com"liant, i.e., constructing floating !evices re!uces
the forces on the structure without significant loss in absorbe! "ower. ,t is "ro"ose! to carry
out research in this !irection which will lea! to a "rototy"e off-shore floating wave "ower
"lant using the conce"t of the backwar! bent !ucte! buoy.
The im"ortance of some renewable energy conversion "rocesses !oes not lie in the fact
that they can be !one at all. The conversion of wave energy into electrical "ower is one such
e#am"le. The wave energy "lant at Vizhinjam has shown that a ran!om an! !iffuse form of
energy can be converte! into electrical energy that can be e#"orte! via the electrical gri!.
Hase! on research, the "rinci"les of energy conversion from wave to wire are being
un!erstoo! an! im"rovements in the conversion efficiency have been ma!e. )or ,n!ia it
shoul! come as a source of great "ri!e that we are in the forefront of this technology an! the
manufacturing has "rece!e! with in!igenous com"onents

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