Thanks to Elon Musk's car company, everyone today knows the name Tesla. But few know that in 1890, Nikola Tesla (after whom Musk's company is named) dreamed of creating wireless power transmission. He was everyone’s favorite electrical genius and succeeded in proving that he could power light bulbs from more than two miles away with a 140-foot Tesla coil.
Whilst he was able to provide proof of concept, he also managed to burn out the dynamo at the local power plant and plunge the entire town of Colorado Springs into a blackout. However, a company in New Zealand thinks it may now have solved the problem of long range wireless power transmission. This is potentially very good news indeed.
The startup, Emrod, has managed to convince a major power distributor to have a crack at going wireless in a commercial capacity. This is exciting because wireless transmission could be a key enabling technology for renewable power, which is often generated far from where it’s needed. This kind of system could be terrific for getting the energy of offshore and remote renewable energy generation into the city grids without the need for giant storage batteries and the like. Let alone avoiding the need for ugly pylons and miles of bird killing wires.
The system uses a transmitting antenna, a series of relays, and a receiving rectenna (a rectifying antenna capable of converting microwave energy into electricity). The power is beamed directly between specific points that are within each other’s line of sight.
Emrod says it works in any atmospheric conditions, including rain, fog and dust, and the distance of transmission is limited only by a line of sight between each relay, giving it the potential to transmit power thousands of miles, at a fraction of the infrastructure costs, maintenance costs and environmental impact a wired solution imposes.
Going forward, Emrod will spend several months in lab testing before moving to a field trial. If that turns out to be a success, we could be seeing wireless energy transmission sooner than we ever expected. OGN will keep you posted!
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