Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wave power - Good to know

Ocean waves are very powerful sources of energy. By capturing wave energy we can use it for not only electricity generation but also for water desalination and water pumping.

Ocean waves are caused by the powerful blowing of ocean winds. In order to effectively harness wave energy ocean winds need to be powerful and continuous. This is the main reason why wave power potential varies significantly in different parts of the world.

Wave power technology has just started developing and because of this wave power plants are very rare (limited to several demonstration projects).

Wave energy is a renewable source of energy because waves are being constantly replenished. Harnessing wave power doesn't create harmful greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change and global warming.

The big oil crisis in 1973 increased the interest for many renewable energy sources, including wave power, but once oil prices started dropping in 1980s funds for wave energy projects were drastically reduced. There aren't many funds available today for researching wave power as other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind have clear edge in investments and government support.

The world's first commercial wave farm with a total installed capacity of 2.25MW opened in 2008 at the Aguçadora Wave Park near Póvoa de Varzim in Portugal.

The useful global wave power resources have been estimated to be greater than 2 TW. This means that wave power has excellent potential and could become significant source of energy in years to come.

The north and south temperate zones have the best sites for harnessing wave power.

In order to harness wave energy the engineers have developed several different wave power devices. These include terminator devices, point absorbers, attenuators, and overtopping devices.

Waves generate approximately 2,700 gigawatts of power; however given the current technological limits only about 500 gigawatts of this power can be captured and turned to useful form of energy.

The main problem with wave energy is making capturing technologies cost-effective, and with minimal environmental and economic impacts.

Wave energy is a powerful source of energy, but with current technologies it is difficult to harness it and convert into electricity, especially in large scale. This is because wave energy first needs to be converted to a 60 Hertz frequency before it can be added to the electric utility grid.