A startup energy company in New Zealand believes it can power the world with a wireless electric transmission system that can bring power to hard-to-reach areas and do so at a lower cost than with traditional power lines.
The startup, Emrod, has teamed up with a leading power supply company to test power transmission using a series of antennas. The only limiting factor is the antennas must be within line of sight with each other.
The system consists of a power source, a transmitting antenna, multiple relay stations, and a receiving antenna, often referred to as a “rectenna.”
Emrod converts electric energy into microwaves, which in turn are transmitted through a cylindrical beam to relay stations. Those stations refocus the beam and guide it along its path to the rectennas, where the microwaves are converted back to electricity.
The concept is not new. In fact, futurist, electrical engineer, and inventor Nikola Tesla envisioned a wireless electric system more than 100 years ago. Transcontinental microwave relay networks opened telephone communications between Europe and America in the 1950s, and recent decades have brought us increasingly efficient wireless network and satellite communication technologies.
What makes Emrod’s system notable is its high degree of efficiency and near-total absence of energy loss.
“The efficiency of all the components we’ve developed is pretty good, close to 100 percent,” said Emrod founder Greg Kushnir. He said his system uses many of the same elements as the common household microwave oven, which achieves only a 70 percent efficiency. The development of newer materials for energy transmission in recent years helps to minimize energy loss, he said.
“We’re not the first [to apply this technology], but we’re the first ones to have a commercially viable solution,” Kushnir said.
Emrod has tested the system over short distances, up to 130 feet so far. Company officials say there is no reason to believe the system will not work perfectly over hundreds miles. Offshore facilities could transmit power to hard-to-reach destinations. Power could be transmitted easily through mountainous regions or areas that would be too treacherous or too costly to lay traditional wiring through. Wireless power stations could be set up quickly in the aftermath of hurricanes or other natural disasters.