Environment Conservation

The Wave of the Future: Ocean Energy

The Wave of the Future - Ocean Energy

Renewable energy calls to mind gigantic windmills and oceans of solar panels. However, there is a new following that recommends the use of ocean waves to create energy.

It is important to note that clean energy sources like the sun and the wind are better than traditional ones. This is because these clean energy sources generate electrical power without emitting GHG (greenhouse gases) that cause global warming and hasten climate change. The problem with these energy sources, however, is that they are not always available.

While the sun rises every day, it also sets during twilight, and each day doesn’t guarantee sunny, cloudless skies. The wind is equally unpredictable. In contrast, tidal waves are predictable to an extent. 

They come crashing towards the shore every single day, notwithstanding those instances when heightened wave strengths get caused by stormy weather or hurricanes. Hence, they have the potential to produce stable electricity.

Currently, scientists are attempting to measure the amount of electricity that these waves can produce. Wave energy systems utilize the movement of water to create energy. Some of these systems use waves while others use swells—the movement of water seen in deeper parts of the ocean—to harness energy. A few others even use the pressure created by these waves near the ocean’s floor. All these methods have only one goal—powering the electric grid.

Unfortunately, current practices limit wave energy practices to places near the ocean. Hence, about 40% of the worldwide population uses electricity generated from the ocean. Nevertheless, think tanks are attempting to discover how ocean energy can be converted into electricity by various generators.

Electricity where it’s a necessity

Experts are figuring out the best locations to put energy converters. At the moment, not all available coastal areas apply to energy generation. Perfect locations are those that do not have unstable waves—waves that can be too powerful that they change the shape of the land beneath the water, causing instability and probable damage to costly generators.

Scientists utilize computer prototypes to pinpoint the best locations for these energy generators. The existing machine, SWAN (Simulating Waves Nearshore), was created by the University of Delft researchers in the Netherlands. SWAN identifies waves of strength and location.

Several other prototypes are being developed elsewhere. Nick Cartwright and Joao Morim Nascimento, for instance, adapted SWAN to study energy conversion in the southeast part of Australia.

The Challenge of Conversion

The challenge, however, is to identify the impacts of wave energy absorption to the ocean and the natural creation of waves by the wind. Will it affect the ocean ecosystem? Since wave energy conversion necessitates absorbing the power made by the waves, it is essential to know its lasting effects on the ocean ecosystem and to us humans.

As Sarah Gold, Chairman of Prance Gold Holdings & Trust states, “We need to know the lasting effects of this new energy-harnessing method. Of course, wave energy has the potential to revolutionize energy consumption issues and halt the harmful effects of both global warming and climate change. However, it is necessary to make sure that this new venture does not damage the world in the process.”

Image Credit: Unsplash.com