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Dared to Dream (and worked long and hard)


ALVIN SMITH and the Searaser A


Words and Pics by Phil Scoble


lvin Smith is all smiles the day I meet up with him at his Warfleet Creek home, and well he might be: that day he had done any number of press interviews, has appeared on Sky TV and seen his invention Searaser laud- ed by all and sundry.


But this remarkable renewable energy device, which


harnesses the power of the sea, was a dream which came within days of being lost forever – and only the fortitude and nerve from Alvin and his investors took it far enough to be picked up by the world’s foremost green energy company.


I better be totally honest here: I’m more connected to Alvin and Searaser’s story than most journalists inter- viewing him today. In October 2006, I was a still green journalist work- ing for a local paper, when Alvin – a man from Surrey who had moved down to Dartmouth in 1997 then working for Pillars builders - walked in. This friendly chap said a couple of months before he had been struck by an idea for a simple renewable energy device, and wondered if I would do a story about it.


I obliged, taking a quick picture of him outside my


office and putting together a few hundred words which appeared the next week. This story led to an enquiry for Alvin, from Nigel Hart of Kingswear – and a first injection of money for Alvin to develop his idea.


Alvin now put into practice the engineering skills he had learnt from his father – a mechanic - who taught his son to weld aged 8. ‘Nigel saw some potential and invested so I


could continue to develop the idea,’ Alvin says, shak- ing his head as he thinks about how far he has come in the last five years, toiling away in his workshop. ‘There have been many obstacles in getting the design just right, but the basic idea is still there. I wanted a renewable energy system which allowed instant ac- cess to power – one of the big downfalls of other renewables – and I wanted it to work with the sea not against it.’ The basic concept of Searaser is one of those ideas so simple that one wonders how it hadn’t been in- vented before: use wave action as a pump to drive a turbine to generate electricity. The beauty of Searaser is that if you pump the water into a reservoir, you can guarantee instantaneous energy – the holy grail of all renewable energy providers, because wind, sun and even wave energy cannot be guaranteed as instanta- neous energy suppliers.


But a simple idea does not allow you to solve the


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