Motion of the Ocean: Introduction to Wave Energy

When it comes to renewable energy, many of us have already heard of the most popular sources, such as solar or wind power.

But did you know that renewable energy can be harnessed from other natural resources and occurrences, such as the heat of the Earth and even the movement of waves?

It’s true! Wave energy is another form of renewable energy that can be used as an alternative to traditional energy from fossil fuels – finite resources that release harmful carbon emissions into the air when harnessed for energy. Below, we’ve compiled a brief summary on wave energy.

What is Wave Energy?

Wave energy is a form of renewable energy that can be harnessed from the motion of the waves. There are several methods of harnessing wave energy that involve placing electricity generators on the surface of the ocean.

How Does it Work?

Did you know that waves are actually caused by tides, which vary depending on the lunar cycles? That’s right – you can blame the moon for those days of rough surf on the beach.

Depending on the lunar cycles, tides, winds, and weather, waves can vary in size and strength. As waves roll through the ocean, they create kinetic energy, or movement. This movement can be used to power turbines, which, in turn, create energy that can be converted into electricity and power. There are also several ways of harnessing wave energy that utilize the up and down motion of the waves to power pistons/turn generators.

What Makes Wave Energy a Renewable Energy Source?

Similar to solar, wind, and geothermal energy, wave energy is a renewable source. As long as the Earth continues to track around the sun, and the moon around the Earth, waves will continue to be a viable source of kinetic energy. Wave energy also produces fewer carbon emissions than energy from traditional fossil fuels, such as coal or oil, making it a more eco-friendly option.

What’s the Catch?

One of the bigger roadblocks to wave energy is that most wave energy systems are fairly small, and aren’t suitable for powering large buildings or structures.

Another problem with wave energy is that, similar to solar or wind power, the amount of energy that can be harnessed is contingent upon the size of the waves at any given time. Variable factors that go into wave energy include the wave height, wave speed, wavelength, and wave density – all of which can be unpredictable.

As technologies develop, scientists and experts are looking at ways to harness more power from waves and the ocean.

Questions about renewable energy? Be sure to stay tuned here at Eco-Centric, your guide to all things energy, or check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

Resources:

http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/technology/hydro/wave-power/

http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter14.html

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