One of the world’s largest and mostly untapped renewable resource is the ocean. The ocean has proven not to be only a one of our largest resources for food, but also for energy. Energy can be produced from the ocean through machinery and devices that utilize the power of tides and waves. If you take a look at a wave energy diagram you will notice that a good amount of energy can be produced from the rising and falling of waves.
Much more focus has been given to the production of wave energy. Here are some of the most interesting facts about wave energy that lead the renewed interest into its development.
The most interesting fact about wave power is the ocean can produce a huge amount of energy from waves alone. Research has shown that the waves of the entire ocean can produce up to 2 terawatts of electricity.
1 terawatt is 1 trillion watts and 2 terawatts is more than double the electrical production of the world. Unfortunately, not all of the world’s oceans are ideal for wave energy producing devices.
Wave energy can be produced from onshore and offshore power generation plants. Onshore power plants are usually located along the shoreline. Offshore power generation plants can be located in deep waters that are usually over 40 meters in depth.
Wave energy power generation plants can have an impact on the surrounding aquatic life. However, the negative impact can be minimized.
A power generation plant that derives power from waves can produce a large amount of electricity even if the plant is smaller in land area compared to other power generation plants deriving energy from other sources.
One of the well known facts about wave power is that it is essentially derived from wind.
Hybrid power generation devices have been developed that can harness the power of wind and waves at the same time. If you factor in the amount of power that can be derived from wind to the power derived from waves, a small power generation plant can produce a very large amount of electricity.
Power generation plants that use the oceans waves as a source of energy do not pollute the ocean or the surrounding environment. The only concern is that these may somewhat disturb aquatic life.
The power of waves is still largely untapped. There are still very few countries that have invested in the development of wave energy plants and wave farms. The equipment needed to harness the energy of the waves is still very much expensive. However, as more companies invest in the development of the devices and machinery to produce energy from waves, the cheaper these will become and in the future more communities around the world will be deriving their energy from waves.
In 1994, Finland announced that they had installed the Waveroller. Energy was produced by installing a plate that was anchored at the sea bottom. Waves moved the upper portion of the plate back and forth and the kinetic energy was collected by a piston pump.
In 1997, Ocean Power Technologies in the United States developed the Powerbouy. The up and down movements of a wave caused hydraulic fluid within a bouy to spin a generator thereby producing energy.
More companies around the world started to develop different technologies to produce energy from ocean waves. Looking into the history of wave farms, we’ll see that these only began sprouting in the last decade. To date, only a handful of wave farms can be seen around the world.
The first wave farm was in Portugal and was called the Agucadoara Wave Farm. The farm was commissioned in 2008 and produced 2.25 MW of energy. Unfortunately, it was shortlived as it was also decommissioned the same year.
In 2009, Spain announced Mutriku Breakwater Wave Plant and it was capable of producing 0.3 MW of energy. The same year Israel commissioned SDE Sea Waves Power Plant that produced 0.04 MW.
In 2011 two wave farms were commissioned in the United Kingdom. The Orkney Wave Power Station produced 2.4 MW and the Siadar Wave Power Station was capable of producing 4 MW of power.
The world’s wave energy technology has much more room for improvement. Technologies to harness wave power have been around for centuries, but the lack of conviction to develop these technologies and turn them into a main resource for energy has prevented this happening at a much faster pace.
How is wave energy used around the world? Sad to say, wave energy has not been a priority, mainly because of the initial setup costs.
Maintenance costs of wave power plants are not as expensive when compared to other power generation plants, but initial setup costs have prevented this type of technology being used around the world.
As the world starts to move away from the reliance on fossil fuels, more power generation plants that use clean sources of energy will be developed. The move from fossil fuel is already evident in many parts of the world, and this could mean that wave energy will soon become more popular.