Wave Power

Comments Off on Wave Power
Wave Power

The water in the world's oceans is in constant motion in the form of waves, tides, and currents.  That represents a tremendous potential source of power if we can figure out how to harness it cost-effectively.

According to The Wall Street Journal,1 companies like Chevron and a host of start-ups are now scrambling to figure out how to harness the ocean to produce power in an ecologically friendly way.  The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that, long term, 10 percent or more of the electricity in the United States could be produced by ocean power. 

With various technologies already in operation, Portugal and Denmark are the world leaders in harnessing wave power.  According to a report in the U.K. Guardian, a Scottish company called Pelamis Wave Power inaugurated the Aguadoura Wave Park off the coast of Portugal last fall at a cost of $12.5 million. 

Three floating tubes with articulated segments use the up-and-down motion of waves to generate two and a quarter megawatts of power continuously, about the same as a commercial wind turbine would produce.  It will supply enough energy for 1,500 families with an average of four people in each family.  Research indicates that this could be ramped up over time to produce 5,000 megawatts of power, enough to power more than three million homes.

While the Portuguese government has smoothed the way for such renewable energy projects, many efforts in the United States and Britain remain bogged down in the red tape surrounding permits.  Nevertheless, according to ZDNet,2 the search giant Google has latched onto the Scottish technology and used it to create a scheme for a floating data center.  As reported on Slashdot.com, Google filed for a patent on the idea last fall.  It could be thought of as a commercial shipping container full of computers, powered by the Pelamis Wave Power generators, and cooled by seawater.

Another approach is reflected in a design by researchers at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.  They have designed turbines that could be placed on the ocean floor below the Gulf Stream, 13 to 15 miles off the coast.  As reported in The Charlotte News & Observer,3 the Gulf Stream moves at a steady five miles an hour and would provide a reliable source of power.  If fully developed, it could provide an equivalent of the power produced by four to eight nuclear reactors and serve as many as five million homes...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund