Antonio Gastao, the “little tinkerer” who wants to produce energy

HASAntonio Gastao is a “little tinkerer”. It’s not him who says it, but his son, a fiber optic engineer in Paris. “He thought he was offending me, but no, I laughed about it,” slips this Charentais of Portuguese origin. Even if he seems doubtful, his offspring still drew and simplified the plans of the ocean-hydroelectric station imagined by his father seventeen years ago, observing the force of the waves crashing on the dykes of the fort of Socoa.

“I spent nights thinking about the system,” he says as he shows us…

HASAntonio Gastao is a “little tinkerer”. It’s not him who says it, but his son, a fiber optic engineer in Paris. “He thought he was offending me, but no, I laughed about it,” slips this Charentais of Portuguese origin. Even if he seems doubtful, his offspring still drew and simplified the plans of the ocean-hydroelectric station imagined by his father seventeen years ago, observing the force of the waves crashing on the dykes of the fort of Socoa.

“I spent nights thinking about the system,” he says as he shows us his rack which is full of documents. The graphics are full of technical details. The parts detailed one by one. “It’s handmade, not by computer,” he insists.

Full-scale test

After reflection, the Roumazierois moved on to making his structure, tested on a full-scale basis over two or three days in October 2023, on Ciboure beach. In agreement with Mayor Eneko Aldana-Douat. “These are initiatives that must be encouraged,” assures the councilor. It was interesting to push the exercise to the end. »


  • Antonio Gastao during the tests of his ocean-hydroelectric station on Ciboure beach, in October 2023.

    DR


  • Antonio Gastao during the tests of his ocean-hydroelectric station on Ciboure beach, in October 2023.

    DR

“I had to wait until the tide was high, just to have at least 30 cm of water. Behind, the waves rush in and lift the float, which activates the hydraulic cylinders, explains this former plumber, heating engineer and mechanic. These propel the oil through valves which turn the hydraulic motor responsible for turning the electric generator. It’s the equivalent of the wind power system,” he adds, specifying that we can put as many full-size stations (with a height of six meters) as necessary next to each other. “I allowed two centimeters of clearance on each side on purpose. »

“I was not taken seriously”

Requiring little maintenance and running on natural energy from the sea, its system – supposed to generate electricity and protect the cliffs from erosion – is “relatively easy to make, to imagine. I don’t understand why it hasn’t been implemented for many years.” “We let it happen, but it stopped there,” concedes Eneko Aldana-Douat. Mr. Gastao confirms what we have known for several decades: we can produce electricity with the power of the tide or swell rather than with fossil or nuclear energy. »

“At 79 years old, I wonder what I will be able to leave as a legacy to my grandchildren in terms of climate…”

After trying to promote it to a company, he scoured all the town halls from the La Rochelle coast to the Basque Country. “I was not taken seriously. To them, I’m just a joke. A handyman… Afterwards, I have my own idea: as long as we have gas and oil under our feet, everything will be done to minimize renewable energies. In addition to the sun as well as the wind, with rivers, tributaries, oceans and waterfalls, we could do a lot. If only with the small falls of the mountain. But there is a story of big money behind it, I am convinced. »

Business? Very little for him. “For the first station, we wouldn’t ask for anything. On the other hand, from the second, we would perhaps ask for 5 to 10% of the profitability. » But he confesses, he embarked on this adventure neither for money nor for glory. “At 79 years old, I wonder above all what I will be able to leave as a legacy to my grandchildren in terms of climate…”

Antonio Gastao during the tests of his ocean-hydroelectric station on Ciboure beach, in October 2023.


Antonio Gastao during the tests of his ocean-hydroelectric station on Ciboure beach, in October 2023.

DR

A bulimic of inventions

Antonio Gastao’s creative soul is in perpetual gestation. His mind teems with inventions. Lately he has been looking into downspouts. “All you have to do is turn down an old lever and you direct the water into your tank or directly into the drain. » He also began manufacturing solar panels for his house and designed a support to hold his glasses on his hearing aids. “I almost lost my pair twice, but I found a solution: the branches systematically fit on each prosthesis. It’s as stupid as anything. »
The “Géo Trouvetou” also installed a “gas vacuum cleaner” on the exhaust outlet of his car. “I’m the only one who has it,” he smiles. Normally, my car consumes six liters per 100 km. When I come down from Charente, I drive 400 km on the highway and use about five liters. » Antonio Gastao tried to patent some of his findings, “but I was told that I was signing up for twenty years, that it was very expensive and that I was going to pay every year. I can’t afford it.”

-

-

PREV Drones pose danger to helicopters fighting wildfires
NEXT “existential threat” for Bardella, “need” for Glucksmann