Each ‘anaconda’, which could be more than 200 yards long and made almost entirely of a rubber tube, may be capable of producing 1MW (megawatt) of power.
The plan is to have ‘shoals’ or ‘schools’ of the devices around the coast, where they would be harnessed to ‘swim’ just below the surface.
Groups of 50 anacondas could each generate enough electricity to power 50,000 homes at an ‘excitingly low’ cost, the developers Checkmate Group said.
A ten-yard version of the anaconda is currently in the final stage of ‘proof of concept’ testing at a 300-yard wave test tank run by QinetiQ in Gosport, Hampshire.
The test tank is the largest in the UK and can simulate the strength and frequency of the ocean waves the device would encounter in the sea.
Checkmate hopes to be testing full-scale devices in the ocean within three years, with the first anacondas in commercial production and deployed off the coast by 2014.
The anaconda is harnessed to the sea floor, and unlike other wave energy machines ‘swims’ head-on to the waves, like a ship in a storm, according to Professor Rod Rainey who came up with the original idea.