Washington, June 2 : A new paper by researchers explores the different methods to harness energy from the oceans.
According to a report in ENN (Environmental News Network), the oceans absorb and dissipate vast amounts of kinetic energy - a renewable energy resource of enormous potential. But harnessing this resource has proven more difficult than first thought.
Now, in the latest installment of the GLOBE-Net Series on Renewable Energy, scientists look at how the power of the oceans might eventually find its place among other forms of renewable energy.
The two main forms of energy associated with our oceans are tidal power and wave power - born of the same source, but different in how they turn energy into electricity.
Tidal power coverts the energy of tides into electricity utilizing the rise and fall of the ocean tides. The stronger the tide, either in water level height or tidal current velocities, the greater the potential for tidal electricity generation.
Tidal generators act in much the same way as do wind turbines, however the higher density of water (832 times that of air) means that a single generator can provide significant power at velocities much lower than those associated with the wind power generators.
Tidal power boasts several advantages over other types of renewable energy technology, because tides are more predictable and reliable than wind energy or sunny days for solar power.
Tidal energy has an efficiency ratio of approximately 80% in terms of converting the potential energy of the water into electricity.
Ocean surface waves are also a considerable source of energy potential, but energy that is not as restricted in terms of location as tidal energy systems. Typically, wave energy is captured using buoys that generate mechanical energy as they oscillate vertically from wave motion.
Terminator devices extend perpendicular to the direction of wave travel and capture or reflect the power of the wave.
Wave-power rich areas of the world include the western coasts of Scotland, northern Canada, southern Africa, Australia, and the northwestern coasts of the United States.
Modern advances in ocean energy technology may eventually see large amounts of power generated from the ocean, especially tidal currents using the tidal stream designs.
According to Andy Karsner, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy at the DOE (Dept. of Energy), "Using environmentally responsible technologies, we have a tremendous opportunity to harness energy produced from ocean waves, tides or ocean currents, free-flowing water in rivers and other water resources to provide clean and reliable power."