The ‘Wave–powered data buoy’ project is a 4-year project funded by the Irish Marine Institute as part of the Eoin Sweeney PhD Scholarship Programme. The project intends to design and test a data buoy, exclusively powered by waves, to measure environmental variables associated with the marine environment, include the sea state itself and various properties of the surrounding sea water. It will be wirelessly connected to a shore base and potentially act as a node in an array of such sensors. Innovative aspects of the buoy design will include an energy maximising control system, and intelligent on-board energy storage, to ensure that adequate power for on-board sensors, and data transmission, is available at all times. The project has a wide range of industrial and academic partners, including the Marine Institute, PLOCAN (Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands), Techworks Marine (Ireland), Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (USA), Dundalk Institute of Technology, and Resolute Marine (USA).
Powering data buoys using wave energy: a review of possibilities Approved Data buoys are a widespread method of not only monitoring environmental parameters, but have a range of other applications: from surveillance to providing power for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). The majority of data buoys currently in use are either solely powered by batteries, or they employ an array of solar panels to sporadically top up the battery power when environmental conditions are suitable. Less usual for data buoys is the use of wind power—though some successful hybrids of the two, such as the AXYS Technologies WindSentinel, also exist. As wave power technology matures, advancements in this currently underdeveloped technology could allow data buoys the option of using wave energy converters (WECs) as an alternative renewable power source. Data buoys could provide a small-scale application of WECs where many of the issues with harvesting such a stochastic and irregular energy source would be highlighted. The lessons learned in developing wave-powered data buoys could potentially be applied to larger, more costly wave energy applications such as wave farms or megawatt-level generators. This review considers data buoy projects currently in development—particularly those that look to incorporate a wave energy harvesting mechanism as either their primary or secondary power source, and their prospects, both as end-use applications in their own right, and as low-cost platforms to prove emerging wave energy technology for larger-scale use.