Last July, India lived through a modern nightmare — a massive power failure that left some 600 million people in the dark, in the heat and out of work for days. Lesson learned: A country that strives to take its place in the modern world, touting itself as a place for multinationals to set up shop, needs a power insurance policy. And for that, India is turning to an Israeli company, SDE, which will build a series of power plants along the Indian coastline, supplying the country with power from waves.
SDE’s wave technology has been making news of late, with the company building facilities in China, India, and other far-flung destinations. The India project is set to be the company’s biggest, supplying hundreds of megawatts of power to the country. Last week, a delegation of major Indian automobile manufacturers visited the SDE offices in Tel Aviv to sign the latest in a series of agreements that the company has made with governments and private businesses in India in recent months to build the power plants that will ring India’s coastline, providing the country with backup power if and when the power goes out again.
SDE’s power plants are a form of wave-based hydroelectric production, using buoys in the water that bob up and down as waves move towards the shore. The buoys’ movement provides pressure on a hydraulic system that operates an electric generator. The buoys, which constitute 10 percent of the system, are placed in the water, and the rest of the system is set on land. In the event of storms, the system is easily accessible for technical service.
So far, besides the new deals with the automobile manufacturers, SDE has signed letters of intent to construct power plants with the governments of the Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, India’s Energy Development Agency, the Electricity Regulation Committee (MERC) and the Electric Company of India PTC.
Indian officials said that the original idea for the SDE plants was as a backup for traditional power plants. But it’s likely that the areas where the plants will be built will fully utilize the power produced by the SDE plants, an Indian government official said, simply because the SDE power is cheaper — about half as much — as the power produced by oil and coal plants. And with over 4,000 miles of coastline, “this kind of effort makes a lot of sense for India,” said the official.