Can New Technology Harness The Ocean’s Power?

Scientists have tried for decades to harness the relentless energy of the ocean. The challenges of capturing wave and tidal energy have proven far more complex and costly than other types of renewable energy like wind, solar or geothermal.

The ocean’s limitless energy potential have encouraged companies to continue to develop new technology to attempt to harness power from the waves or tides. The latest developments in marine and tidal pilot projects around the world are as follows:

  • Floating Wave Energy – Australian Marine & Offshore Group is testing a floating pendulum wave energy converter in Cornwall, England. The system is tuned to maximize power from incoming waves, extracting energy from the pendulum damping via electromotive force.
  • Tidal Stream Array SIMEC Atlantis Energy, headquartered in Scotland is using the world’s first tidal stream array to generate power into the electrical grid. The four-turbine, 6 MW array is located off the northeast coast of Scotland.
  • Wave Energy Buoy – Ocean Energy, headquartered in the Republic of Ireland is currently conducting testing the 1.25 MW capacity “OE Buoy,” which was built by Vigor Industries in Portland, Oregon.
  • Gravity Base Tidal EnergyMinesto, headquartered in Sweden has successfully completed the first commercial-scale 500 kW system in Wales. The gravity based system sweeps a small turbine across a large area at a speed several times the speed of the underwater current.

The potential for wave and tidal energy is significant but harnessing the power of the oceans has proven to be difficult. The force of tides and waves are so great they have ripped equipment apart, reducing reliability and driving up operation cost.

New technology developments have increased the reliability and driven down the cost of power from wind turbines and solar panels. Wind and solar are now the cheapest form of power in the United States.

Will new technology be able to harness the vast energy potential of the oceans? Many companies around the world certainly think so.


Jack Kerfoot

“Our Energy Conundrum”

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