Benefits and cons of wave energy

Ocean waves generate enormous amounts of electricity, which can be used to generate wave energy or tidal energy, both of which are sustainable resources. More than half of the energy produced in the U.S. in 2020, or 2.64 trillion kilowatt-hours, could be produced by the ocean in the United States.

What is impeding the use of wave energy if we have the capacity to produce more than half of the country’s electricity from waves?

In this post, we’ll look more closely at the advantages and disadvantages of wave energy as well as the difficulties in building wave energy power plants.

Pros and cons of wave energy

Zero emissionsEnvironmental effects
RenewableHigh costs
Energy potentialScalability

What is wave energy?

The simplest way to understand it is that a wave’s energy drives buoy-mounted underwater turbines. The water’s force causes the turbines to spin, producing power.

Utilizing the inherently occuring forces of water throughout the ocean, wave energy generates electricity. Utilizing the methods in the infographic below, wave energy plants may harness the enormous power of waves.

wave energy

An intake system for water is shown by the buoys at the bottom right. The water then rushes up to a generator containing wave energy converters (WEC), or turbines, which spin when splashed by rushing water. The WECs’ motion is what produces power. Power lines are then used to transmit this electricity to the grid.

On the other hand, hydropower directly propels a turbine that is attached to a generator and produces electricity by using the flow of moving water. Actually, the only similarity between hydropower and wave energy is that both are propelled by the forces of water.

Although wave energy has enormous potential, it is exceedingly difficult to use since seawater is corrosive and its movements are always changing.

However, there aren’t any large-scale wave energy facilities in operation right now. There are only a few, and they are mostly used for research on the most effective ways to harvest wave energy.

Advantages of wave energy

1. Zero emissions

Like fossil fuels, wave energy does not naturally produce greenhouse gases when it is produced.

Wave power is harnessed by turbines to produce electricity, making them an entirely clean and sustainable energy source.

Tidal power may complement solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower in the mix of renewable energy sources if the technology is developed properly.

2. Renewable

Wave power is renewable, much like all other alternative energy sources.

Wind is a result of uneven heating of the planet’s surface, primarily due to the sun warming various places at varying speeds. Wind produces waves.

Waves develop when heat energy is transferred by wind from one region of the globe to another. Since wind will always exist, waves at the water’s surface will always be able to produce power, making this source renewable.

3. Enormous energy potential

A wave exerts a tremendous amount of kinetic energy, which is subsequently harnessed by wave energy converters to create electricity.

For instance, a typical 4-foot wave with a 10-second period can generate 35,000 horsepower per mile of coastline. Due to its constant movement and energy output, the ocean has a lot of potential for energy production.

Due to the fact that many nations have access to oceans that can help power their electrical grids, there is also a ton of potential.

4. Reliable energy source

Waves are nearly never still and rarely interrupted. Because wind does not always blow, wave energy is a more reliable energy source than wind power for producing electricity.

It is important to remember that the quantity of energy carried by waves varies both annually and seasonally. Since there is more wind in the winter because of the lower temperatures, waves are typically more active.

Disadvantages of wave energy

1. Environmental effects

There is no way to quantify the environmental effects of large-scale power stations on the shore because wave energy is still in its infancy, largely in research.

It might be difficult to construct plants or electrical wires directly on the beach since they would be ugly and could harm the marine life and ecosystems nearby.

Fishing grounds nearby may be impacted, or the plants may exacerbate coastal corrosion. The true environmental effects that wave energy plants may have, however, require further study.

2. High costs

It is challenging to predict costs for wave power because it is a developing energy source.

The cost of construction for wave energy systems might be as low as $07.5 cents per kWh, however this would depend on the location and ongoing maintenance expenses. Although wave power is still in the research stage of development and is typically funded by government grants or research grants, the costs are currently typically very high. There are no large-scale wave energy users in the energy sector, which would reduce costs.

Because these plants will be immersed in saltwater that is continually flowing, maintenance for them is anticipated to be exceedingly expensive. Wave energy plants will probably require frequent (and expensive) maintenance because constant movement can result in more breaking.

3. Hard to scale

The inability of any utility to deploy wave farms since they are not yet big enough to generate a significant amount of electricity is maybe the largest disadvantage at the time.

Despite testing of various wave energy systems in Scotland, Hawaii, and most recently Australia, their peak power output capacity is only about 2.5MW. Although the business is anticipated to expand, putting wave energy producers into use on a practical scale remains difficult.

The future of wave energy

Wave energy has the potential to be a fantastic addition to the mix of renewable energy for many nations that border the ocean.

Waves would offer constant energy that may be used to produce clean electricity. Wave energy is still in its early stages, making installation expensive and the potential environmental drawbacks unknown.

The fact remains that wave power has great potential on a worldwide scale. But before nations and utilities can start incorporating wave energy into their arsenal of renewable energy sources, the sector needs additional financing and research to complete the technologies required.

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