Wave energy is the most concentrated type of renewable energy, which can be harnessed from the movement of the waves. Wave power is a reliable, consistent, and predictable energy source generated without causing pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Ocean power can be generated in coastal cities and various technologies are available for its production. Wave energy has the potential to replace many of the global hydropower plants, which have some negative effects on the ecosystems.
Wave energy is the term indicating the power generation from the waves. This power is formed by the movements of floating devices on the water surface, which capture the natural motions of the flow to power turbines or generators and produce energy. The waves depend on different factors such as lunar cycles, tides, winds, sun, weather and come with different strengths and sizes due to these factors, which can be predicted even several days in advance. Wave energy has a much higher power density in comparison to wind and solar, which makes it the most concentrated type of renewable energy.
With over half the world’s population living within a hundred kilometers near the coastline and ⅔ of the Earth covered in water, wave energy with its tremendous potential has all the possibilities to replace the energy production technologies emitting greenhouse gas. Wave power is a sustainable, renewable, no waste resource causing no environmental issues. In comparison to hydropower generating about 72% of the world’s renewable energy and damaging water ecology, wave energy offers a more eco-friendly version of producing energy. The areas with the highest wave power utilization are Spain, Portugal, Scotland, Ireland, France, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile.
The most common wave energy technologies are:
Buoys are the floating devices moved by water in different directions driving the generator with that power;
Wave activated body is the system turning mechanical energy into electrical with turbines or electrical converters;
Overtopping is involves the waves hitting the barriers become accumulated in a reservoir and return through a turbine that drives a generator;
Oscillating water column is an enclosed air column going up and down with the movement of the waves, then compressing air mass and driving a generator.
Terminators form a row of floating devices facing the waves and are forced to move opposite each other providing power to a generator.
Advantages of wave energy
Renewable. As long as the wind, sun, and water exist there will always be waves. Using waves’ potential does not reduce natural resources or harm the environment.
Zero emissions. No harmful byproducts such as gas or waste are generated while using wave energy. Turbines producing energy from waves make a pollution-free energy source.
High energy potential. The amount of kinetic energy produced from the waves is enormous as the ocean is constantly in motion.
Reliable and widely available energy source. The waves are constantly moving, becoming more intense in the winter but the amount of energy produced per year is equal on average. Many coastal cities with high population density and closeness to the harbors can take advantage of the wave energy and use it for their households and industrial purposes.
Predictable. The wave power is rather consistent and any changes can be predicted up to several days in advance, so calculating the amount to be generated is quite simple.
Variety of technologies. There are multiple ways to harness wave energy and the work on finding new ways continues.
Increase of energy self-sufficiency. Using different energy sources provides energy security minimizing the risks of a single energy source being blocked.