A new possible innovation in renewable energy looks possible with the development of man-made coral. Wave energy has been a huge potential development area for developers of renewable energy, with ocean currents having a potential density of energy that vastly exceeds wind by a factor of 800.
However, wave technology is still struggling to reach a commercial viability point due to difficult operating conditions, wildlife issues, technological complexity and disruption from fishing and shipping lanes.
One start-up thinks it could use man-made coral to get around these problems and to accelerate wave energy's development. Zyba, which is a British firm, is using a new wave energy system to generate energy for a new form of concrete coral to grow on the ocean bed in areas of vulnerable coastline. This would protect the area and help to provide clean energy for coastal communities.
The CCell is an energy-generating curved paddle which captures wave power and transforms it into clean energy. Its design is simple with just a single moving part, and the shape makes it naturally strong and able to funnel wave power to the generating paddle.
The company behind the innovation hopes that it will be able to market it directly to the smaller communities along the coastline that would be able to use the power directly at their local level. This could be a difficult proposition if the only benefit were clean energy, but the ability to protect vulnerable areas from erosion could be a deal-clincher.
The man-made coral reef grows from biorock, which creates a living concrete reef which protects the bed of the sea. With an energy source, the coral can grow faster and rehabilitate damaged areas up to twenty times quicker than normal.