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Wave Power: Earth’s Untapped Renewable Energy Resource

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In today’s program, we’ll learn about wave power and how it could be the future source of clean energy for our planet. Wave power, also known as marine or ocean energy, captures the energy of tides, currents, and wind waves from the world's oceans, to generate renewable power. Unlike wind and solar conditions, the status of waves or swells can be easily forecast for periods of 48 to 72 hours in advance, making the availability of wave energy easy to predict.

Various methods for harnessing ocean energy currently exist. We’ll next cover some of the most common approaches. “Let’s start with the tides. It is estimated that together, tidal currents and tidal turbines can produce as much as 0.9 terawatts, which would be quite a significant fraction of the global energy production. The other methods that we can use to generate electricity from the ocean come from a different system. And here we are harnessing the waves. So, the ocean has a lot of surface waves that go up and down. And what we can devise is different systems that take advantage of being thrown up and down with the ocean currents and release that kinetic energy and turn it into electricity. The third way you can induce energy from the ocean is you can harness the power of the great ocean currents.”

Many scientists and energy companies are working on and testing devices to harness wave energy from the oceans. Let’s look at some of the advances that have taken place in this field. Together with his team at the University’s Theoretical and Applied Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Dr. Alam has developed a “wave carpet” that extracts energy from ocean waves and transforms it into electricity that can be used in households and cities, and can boost local supplies of freshwater. One of the most promising technologies to emerge recently for harnessing wave energy comes from “down under,” from the Australian Wave Swell Company. Another company planning to follow their lead is CorPower, a Swedish wave-energy developer founded in 2009. CorPower Ocean is bringing a new class of high-efficiency wave energy converter to market, enabling robust, cost-effective harvesting of electricity from ocean waves. The company hopes to have wave-energy technology up and running by 2024.

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