Wave Energy.

A reliable and clean source of energy.

As international pressure has been increasingly pushing for countries to work toward mitigating and reducing damages to the environment caused by consumption of oil, including the greenhouse effect gases, so has the economic incentive grown to develop new sources of clean and renewable energy; though the price of oil is now down from its high of over $110 per gallon in May of this year, the dramatic increase that consumers faced up to that peak was damaging enough to send shocks through the already weakened economy. This is why renewable energies are now getting the attention, and the funding, they had been lacking for so long.  Wind and solar power, two of the older and more advanced renewable energy technologies have been expanding across the globe, and in their shadow, wave power.  Energy derived from the movement of waves has always been an exciting idea in theory, but one that has been relatively unsuccessful in practice until now. Generating energy from waves works by placing a device in the ocean that converts the potential energy of the waves into mechanical energy as the water from the waves flows through it.   The design of such devices varies from buoys to a snake-like design (list of devices and companies).  Experts claim that wave energy has a much higher capability than even offshore wind power, mostly because wind energy is only available about 20% of the time as compared to 90% with wave power. 

However, wave power has been much less successful, mostly because of the abrasive environment that the wave devices must endure; developing devices that can withstand the corrosion of salt water and the battering of strong waves is difficult and expensive.  Even the largest and most successful companies that have actually gotten their prototypes out into the ocean for testing have experienced major setbakcs. The most promising project so far, a wave farm started by Palamis off the shores of Portugal in 2008,  was able to power 400 homes but was forced to hault operations due to financial difficulties. 

Despite the challenges, there is enough potential in wave power for further work and investigation.  The list of competitors in the field has grown to the dozens, and as the design of the wave power devices in use continues to be refined, there is no doubt that it will one day be a source of clean a consistent renewable energy, with minimal environmental impact.

Natalie Giggy

Wave power companies:  http://www.emec.org.uk/wave_energy_developers.asp
Types of devices :  http://www.emec.org.uk/wave_energy_devices.asp