The Future of Wave Power
With approximately eighty percent of our energy, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, still being manufactured from fossil fuels that release pollutants to the air such as greenhouse gasses that include carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and methane, it is not a bad idea to consider some alternative energy options like wave power. What is wave power? It is the harnessing of power of the ocean’s waves by using the momentum of the waves to power a turbine. There are several models that are effective for it’s respective region. The potential of this option is great because of the vastness of the ocean and how it could very well be an inexhaustible source for the future.
To produce more energy efficiently, there are several models designed to absorb as much energy as possible. One example includes the oscillating water column. This model has two openings, one on the bottom for the water to enter and another narrow passage that allows air in and out a chamber that contains a turbine. The water comes from the bottom and pressurizes air, forcing it to go through the narrow passage spinning the turbine. When the water is on its way out, the air comes out through the narrow passage thus spinning the turbine again. Another one is an overtopping device. This device is a reservoir where there is an opening on the top for a turbine outlet. It is meant for when the waves topple over the reservoir the water goes down the opening which, in turn spins the turbine. The Pelamis sea snake are “snake-like” buoys that are tethered together with rotation devices that use the wave’s horizontal force to produce rotation energy.
Will Thomas at Stanford University said “it is estimated that between 2000 and 4000 terawatt hours per year of energy could be extracted from the world's waves. To put this in perspective, consider that approximately 50 terawatt hours per year could be extracted from waves in the United Kingdom alone, which would constitute 15-20% of their current electricity demand.” This can tell you how much potential wave energy has and this is only one advantage of this alternative. Another benefit would be that this option for energy production yields no waste unlike nuclear energy’s radioactive matter and fossil fuel’s greenhouse gasses. Also, the fact that waves are moving around the clock giving it an advantage over wind energy. With all the advantages that come with wave power it unfortunately is accompanied with disadvantages. To start with, the placing of wave power technology in the ocean has currently unknown effects on the marine ecosystem According to the Ocean Energy Council, the best wave energy generator, located in the United Kingdom, produces energy at 7.5 cents per kilowatt hour as compared to coal burning power plants’ energy that costs 2.6 cents per hour. To help clarify, the average electric bill in my house is eighty dollars, if we used wave power then our bill would be approximately two hundred...