The importance of using renewable energy sources is spreading across countries. However, bio-fuels, wind, hydrogen and solar energy are given the upper hand. What about using ocean waves to generate electricity?
If ever you would come across a surfer to discuss the energy of ocean’s waves you would be surprised. The ocean is unlike rivers where massive energy is produced from hydropower dams. The ocean provides with tidal current what can provide an infinite amount of energy. There are always waves; only the magnitudes of waves alter.
Ocean Power – Harness or Waste It
The concept of using ocean energy was explained by John Lienhard, a mechanical engineering professor from University of Houston. He said that repetitive cycle of the moon creates a gravitational pull that propel tons of water to move towards land. However, the endless tons of water do eventually flow back. The energy is spent uselessly as it dissipates back to the huge oceans.
There are actually three basic ways to generate energy from the sea. These are through tidal power, wave power and ocean water temperature variations; known as “ocean thermal energy conversion.
According to Energy Quest, an educational website of the California Energy Commission, the sea can be harnessed for energy in three basic ways: using wave power, using tidal power, and using ocean water temperature that varies in a process called “ocean thermal energy conversion”.
1. Ocean Tidal Power
Tidal energy uses the high and low tides to harness energy more directly. For instance, conventional hydropower stations in dams operate using the same methodology. There are already large oceanic tidal power farms in France and Canada that are providing energy to the population.
2. Ocean Wave Power
Wave power is harnessed through the movement of waves. The ups and downs of waves can for example be used to create air pressure that is driven up in pipe to spin a generator. Nowadays, some small-scale ocean-wave power systems are used to provide electricity to warning buoys and lighthouses.
3. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
This particular system tries to produce energy through the differences in temperature of water in the deep and on the surface. The variation in heat is expected to be used to produce energy. There is a test station that has been erected in Hawaii with the objective to one day make this technology more effective. It is expected that one-day OTEC technology will be able to produce a significant amount of energy.
The Perspective of Ocean Power
Many experts propose that ocean energy is better than wind energy. It is suggested that less turbines will be required to produce energy with water, as the water’s natural density is much more intense than wind energy. The cost of harnessing ocean energy is now radically expensive. Knowing that ocean technology is mainly in an infant and experimental phase of development its cost is likely to fall once it becomes popular. In the near future, analysts are forecasting that ocean power will account for at least 2 percent of the energy needs in U.S.
Many companies are specialized in the field of ocean power technology. In Sweden, we have” Seabased AB” and at Long Island City, New York, a company named “Verdant Power”, is expanding tidal energy supply in New York’s East River.
Ocean energy is an emerging field that is lagging behind the renewable agenda of many countries. However, it might likely surface as pioneer to save land by substituting wind farms to tidal energy.