Wave and Tidal Power Plants

the abc of renewable energies (Logo)The A B C of Ocean-Wave and Tidal Power Plants

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Generating electricity by harnessing the power of waves and oceans

Ocean waves and tides carry so much power in them. This huge amount of power can be harnessed and used to produce electricity and provide energy for areas near shores. This is the basis of wave power and tidal energy technology.

Wave power is considered a renewable energy, which works by collecting kinetic wave energy and then converting it into useful work to produce electricity, either offshore, near the shore, or on the shorelines. For this purpose, mini hydroelectric power plants may be situated in these locations.

Wave power plant uses the ocean's kinetic wave energy

The energy produced in these power plants are mostly used by ocean industries, such as large fishing vessels, fish and seafood processing plants, and canning factories.

Currently, there are only a handful of wave power plants in the world. The first commercial one in operation is at the Agucadora Wave Park in Portugal. Other wave power plants in the works are to be located in Scotland and Cornwall in England. In the US, there are plans to build a wave power park at Reedsport in Oregon, off the coast of Northern California.

Tidal power, on the other hand, is a bit different from wave power in that tides are more predictable, as tides are based on the positioning of the Earth and moon relative to each other. Because of this, it is said that tidal power plants are more controllable than solar and wind energy systems.

Similar to wave power, tidal power is harnessed by collecting the kinetic energy from the motion of the waves. In addition to this, there is also potential energy that can be used from the water height differences caused by high and low tides.

Ocean heat technology

ocean thermal energy conversion gains energys by temperature differences in deep and shallow waters

Another interesting form of energy technology available from ocean waters is ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC. In this technology, energy is generated by heat engines which work on the temperature differences between deep and shallow waters in the ocean.

OTEC processes involve many thermodynamic processes. Basically, heat engines rely on temperature differences for them to work. The greater the difference in temperature, the more efficient the heat engine is.

Like wave and tidal power plants, OTEC power plants can be located offshore, near shore, or along the shorelines. Currently, the US Navy is exploring the possibility of using OTEC plants to power their operations on the Indian Ocean and in Guam.
Aside from electricity production, OTEC systems have the potential to be used for refrigeration and air conditioning, heating applications, desalination, and even in mineral extraction.

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Harnessing the power of ocean waves and tides