International World Group (IWG), the new and already well- established company founded by Giancarlo Elia Valori has signed a very important Agreement with China’s National Ocean Technology Center (NOTC). This is the result of the great attention that President Xi Jinping and his Minister of Energy Resources, Lu Hao – leading a vast and powerful Department that brings together six previous Ministries – have always paid to the environmental and green transformation of the entire Chinese economy.
This is the President Xi Jinping’s policy line, which goes hand in hand with the project that acts as the nervous system of this policy line, namely the New Silk Road.
Abundant and clean energy, as well as expansion, in a win- win logic, to make the great expansion of the future Chinese economy outside its natural borders possible and economically rational.
So outlined, the Agreement between the IWG and the Chinese National Ocean Technology Center seems to be yet another important business news, which hits the headlines of the most important global business media.
Indeed, this agreement is much more than that.
The Rome-based IWG led by President Valori has long been operating as one of the most important companies in the transfer of renewable energy technologies.
In this case, the cutting-edge technologies concern the energy produced by the waves and tides of the Chinese marine system.
It should be considered that currently 40% of the world’s population already lives within 100 kilometres from the sea and the great oceans.
If we study the issue with the mathematical model called Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN), we can see that for the South Pacific coasts this model predicts the possible existence of energy hotspots, every 5 kilometers from the shores and with depths of no more than 22 meters.
This means that every ocean, and especially the Pacific, has a stable overabundance of energy that can be extracted from waves, currents and tides.
The sea kinetic energy, inevitably cyclical and eternal for geographical reasons and for the cycle of terrestrial and cosmic motions, is divided into four main categories of “extraction”, if we can still use this word.
Electric currents are extracted with energy converters, or with energy extractors from tides, but also with thermal converters, and finally with new technologies, which mainly use the differences in the salt gradient between sea and inland waters. In general terms, with all these technologies over 7,550 Gigawatts can be extracted throughout the world by the end of 2050 without causing any environmental damage.
That is already a lot.
It is also a quantity already higher than the maximum peak of the current US energy consumption.
Interestingly, with sea renewable energy, we can save over 5 trillion tons of CO2 in the atmosphere.
In Ravenna, Italy, ENI has already started to operate the Inertial Sea Waves Converter (ISWEC), designed to extract at least 50 GW from the sea cyclic movements.
Again in Italy, a joint venture is underway between ENI, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, TERNA and Fincantieri for the construction of sea energy production systems, but on an industrial and mass level.
With the agreement reached between IWG and the Chinese NOCT we are going far beyond.
The Nanjing-based research company is at the forefront in optimising energy structures and in analysing the ecological and production aspects of the new sea energy extraction stations.
In Europe, and especially in Italy, we have already invented energy and marine technologies that could be very interesting for the Chinese people.
Italy, together with Scandinavia, is a European and global leader in this field of research and applications.
Moreover, in the EU, these technologies will already be economically profitable by the end of 2050, i.e. in the near future.
Great Britain, for example, has a tidal energy potential of at least 18 TWh, which is an excellent level, while currently in Italy 18.3% of energy consumption is already “green”, with a rather good share of renewables from the sea, i.e. 11%, but in 2020.
Chinese scientists think that China can extract as many as 8.2 GW, especially from the Zhoushan Islands and the Province of Zhejiang, without undermining the coastal environmental balance.
However, there are over fifty global projects currently operational for the world’s extraction of electricity from tidal energy.
In Europe, in principle, almost all countries are shifting towards the technology of horizontal axis turbines, which is the sea parallel of wind turbines.
There are also the “Point Absorbers”, which use the vertical wave motion and, as a class of advanced generators, we have the oscillating wave surge converters. Finally there are the attenuators, i.e. floating systems that operate with special pumps inside them.
There is also a small structure, developed by the University of Pisa, which consists of a device placed on the bottom of the sea and a mobile system that follows the wave cycle.
We have many fully submerged latest generation converters, or systems consisting of a moving mass that, connected to a generator, is installed inside a hull, to acquire the energy from pitching and rolling movements.
We also have at our disposal the technologies that operate through the hydrogen electrolysis, an Italian pilot-project that currently uses a 500 KW similar system, already anchored in the Strait of Messina.
In Italy the areas already covered by energy from the sea movement cycle – however, only partly – are already quite large.
They stretch from the cities in the Marches Region, now electrified with a 24% share of energy from marine motion, to the Umbria Region, which is landlocked, and the area in the Province of La Spezia.
The production cost of tidal energy is the lowest among similar costs in the field of renewable energy.
The equipment depreciation cost is often lower than the cost of wind or solar energy.
Normally, the generator is placed on a floating surface, which is connected by cables to the bottom of the sea.
There are five buoys connected to the cables, which contain electrical systems and advanced sensors to connect to as many as four turbines, which operate just below sea level. Low environmental invasiveness is a typical feature of all these technologies.
In addition to full renewability, this is what really matters.
We should also recall the actions taken by the China National Renewable Energy Center, together with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), for the 30-year programme aimed at completely eliminating the energy carbon production in the Zhangjiakou area.
In China, in 2018, there was a large investment to the tune of 79 RMB for just two demonstration systems of energy from the sea cycle.
There was also the reaction of an energy structure using desalination, which was installed on the Wanshan Island, using the technology called Sharp Eagle, i.e. a semi- submersible system that can be anchored or submerged to produce tidal energy.
In the case of Wanshan, it is a 36-metre system with a width of 24 metres and a 16-metre high wave converter.
All this shows that it is a powerful structure of about 120 kW, but extremely manageable and with very little environmental impact.
It dates back to 2015, but it is completely autonomous for energy production and distribution.
With a view to improving sea energy production, the European universities and, above all, the one in Turin, with which we have long been cooperating, have identified three optimisation lines of action: a) turbines that work in both directions of the currents induced by tides; b) turbines installed under floats, but without exposing the machines to storms; c) turbines attached to cables, as it was designed for the devices and equipment in the Strait of Messina.
There are even completely new concepts in the design phase, such as the possibility of exploiting the energy from currents by means of rubber “eel-shaped structures”, which produce electricity from their wave motion, or systems which imitate, under water, the sails or the fish fins, thus optimizing electricity production also in this case.
There are also mechanisms that exploit the energy from the waves hitting a concrete barrier, so as to pump air that moves a turbine and produces electricity.
Such an experiment, already in operation in the port of
Civitavecchia, seems to be working very well.
Dimemo, a wave impact energy production system in the port of Naples, also works very well.
We also have new membranes of polymers that produce electricity bending upon the thrust of waves, or of tubes that are compressed at the bottom by the passage of sea motions.
A pendulum, designed by the University of Turin, has long been operational, which moves a generator, oscillating together with the waves.
We also need to recall the “H24” designed by the Pisan mathematician Michele Grassi, which operates on depths between 6 and 12 meters.
The waves move a parallelepiped, which is connected to an alternator.
Already tested in front of Marina di Pisa in 2015, it was perfected by the company of Grassi himself.
There is also a problem with the energy absorption of transport networks, an issue in which we are particularly interested and in relation to which we can develop innovative and effective projects.
Hence, with this MoU we establish a first, but fundamental, relationship between China and International World Group, together with some remarkable sovereign funds, to improve energy production, the environment, health and the economy of the whole China. It is a great source of pride for us.
Giancarlo Elia Valori