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New Wave Energy Devices Developed in China
China Funds Development of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies


Dengwen Xia

Changlei Ma

Qian Xia

The Eagle I WEC during testing.
China is being confronted with the problems of increasing energy demand, large dependence on fossil fuel imports and climate change. A target of a 15 percent renewable energy implementation by 2020 has been set. At the same time, the Chinese government committed to decreasing the carbon emission per unit of GDP in 2020 by 40 to 45 percent, relative to 2005 levels. In this context, renewable energy (RE) has become a solution for the Chinese government. The Renewable Energy Law and 'Twelfth Five-Year' Plan of Renewable Energy Development (2011 to 2015) were recently released.

As a prospective RE, wave energy has been successfully implemented in China, including research and development and pilot projects. The Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences (GIEC, CAS) and National Ocean Technology Center (NOTC) have been engaged in the development of wave energy converters (WECs) since the 1980s. The pendulum-type WEC (by NOTC) and oscillating water column (OWC) WEC (by GIEC) have been developed, and the beacon-based WEC (by GIEC) has reached the commercial phase.

Public Funding Mechanisms
The Law of Renewable Energy of the People's Republic of China (amendment) enforced in 2010 outlines a policy to accelerate and promote the development of renewable energy projects. In 2010, the Ministry of Finance and the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) released 'Interim Measurements of Marine Renewable Energy Special Funds.' The special funds support marine renewable energy (MRE) research, including pilot demonstration projects used in isolated islands, pilot demonstration grid-connected projects, technologies industrialization, research and development, and standard and public services. The special fund program for MRE (SFPMRE) has entered the forth round and has supported more than 80 projects, with $120 million total funding. Other main public funding mechanisms in China include the science and technology support plan of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the technology innovation plan of CAS. In addition, SOA promulgated the National Marine Functional Zoning (2011 to 2020) in 2012 to arrange sea-area utilization, including marine renewable energy devices.

Thus, more and more institutes and companies are engaging the development of marine renewable energy devices. The wave energy converters developed recently in China, such as the duck-type WEC, pendulum-type WEC and oscillating buoy (OB) WEC, have come to the phase of open-sea testing.

Technology Development
Research of wave energy technology and devices have been conducted for more than 30 years in China. The wave energy technology in China is relatively mature and the versatility of the technology is increasing. Currently, several wave energy devices are being developed, and there are high expectations that the cost of the wave energy technology will drop sharply in the future and the technology will reach the commercial phase.

FLB. NOTC developed the 100-kilowatt, pendulum-type WEC under sponsorship from the National Key Technology Research and Development Program (MOST) since 2008. FLB is offshore, bottom-mounted, and composed of a buoyant and bottom-hinged flap. Incoming waves cause the flap to oscillate back and forth, thus driving the hydraulic cylinder, pumping fresh water through a high-pressure pipeline. The pressurized water drives a turbine connected to an electrical generator.

The width of FLB is 7 meters, and the rated significant wave height is 2 meters. The device was successfully deployed in Daguan Island, China, in August 2012 and has been tested since then [when and where?]. For the limit of the wave energy resource, the total efficiency of FLB is only 14 percent, but it is reliable. To continue this article please click here.

Dengwen Xia is a senior researcher at the National Ocean Technology Center, State Oceanic Administration of China. His areas of expertise include assessment of ocean energy resources, wave energy conversion technology and marine functional zoning.

Changlei Ma received his bachelor's of science degree in marine management from the Ocean University of China in 2003 and his master's of science degree in marine monitoring technology in 2010. His research interests include marine strategy and the application and integration of oceanographic sensor platforms.

Qian Xia is a senior student in the school of mathematics and statistics at Huazhong University of Science and Technology. His major is applied mathematics, and his research interests include science calculation and modeling of mathematics.

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