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Wave Energy Pros and Cons – Tidal and Ocean Wave Power Still Niche Technologies

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Wave Energy

Wave Energy is one of the niche renewable energy technologies which is still in its infancy stage. While other forms of alternative energy like solar, wind and biomass see hundreds of  billions of dollars in investment each year, wave energy does not see even $1 billion in investment. This is because Wave Energy is still much behind in the technology curve in terms of costs and reliability. Also there are many varied approaches and technologies to harness the power of the ocean waves.However developed countries like UK are promoting this renewable energy since it has huge potential like solar and wind energy.Given the energy shortages that we are facing, we need to promote all forms of sustainable green energy and wave energy definitely has strong promise. Here we present the various pros and cons of wave energy:

Pros of Wave Energy

  1. Minimal Greenhouse Gas Emissions/Air Pollution – Wave Energy does not produce any GHG emissions or cause air pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels unlike coal,oil or gas. This makes them very attractive as a source of cheap,non carbon dioxide producing electricity. Note Wave Energy does release some carbon dioxide when cold water reaches the upper surface of the ocean but the GHG emission from this is only 5% of what similar amounts of fossil fuel burning products so it can safely be ignored.
  2. No Fuel Cost – Waver Energy does not require any fuel like most other sources of energy.T his is a huge advantage over other fossil fuels whose costs are increasing at a drastic  rate every year. Electricity prices are increasingly rapidly in most parts of  the world much faster than general inflation. Wave Energy is powered by the waves of the ocean which are totally free just like Wind and Sunlight.
  3. No Pollution and Deaths – Wave Energy does not lead to pollution disasters like the BP Oil Spill and Coal Deaths which are directly related to Dirty Energy Production.
  4. Size Advantages – Wave Energy Generators can be installed in various sizes with as little as 1 MW. This is not possible for other energy forms which require a minimum large size such as Coal, Nuclear etc.

Cons of Wave Energy

  1. Immature Technology –  Wave Power is quite immature,costly and unproven in large scale. While some companies have made good progress, the technology remains largely unproven and has only been put to actual test in pilot cases. Some companies have gone out of business as their technology failed in actual field tests. The hazards of operating 24/7 in ocean conditions is not easy.
  2. Slow Technology Improvement – Wave  Energy has the potential to generate 100s of gigawatts of electricity through. However the technology improvement has been slow with setbacks. While Wave Energy has been known since the 1700s the progress has been extremely slow.
  3. Difficulty in Transmission of Wave Electricity – Wave Power generate power quite far away from the consumption of electricity. Transportation of Wave Energy can be quite cumbersome and expensive. Some Wave Energy Generators are converting power at the bottom of the ocean or far away from the shoreline. Moving that power towards where it is used can be difficult.
  4. Weather Effects – Severe Weather like Storms and Typhoons can be quite devastating on the Wave Power Equipment especially those place on the Sea Floor.
  5. Intermittent Nature – One of the biggest problems of Renewable Power is that it is intermittent in nature as it generates energy only when there are waves. This problem can be solved with energy storage however this leads to additional costs.
  6. High Capital Investment – A Wave Power Plant can cost around$6-10 million million to be spent in building 1 Megawatt.
  7.  Loss of Scenery – The sight of wave generators around the shoreline can look quite ugly and cause loss of tourism potential around shorelines. Also local residents can have problems even with wave power equipment which is not far offshore. The Cape Wind Energy project off the shore of Massachusetts has been delayed by over 10 years as it has drawn serious objections from the owners of coastal homes about loss in their property values.
  8. Cannot be Built Anywhere – This is a disadvantage which is common to all  the 3 types of Water based Energy that is Tidal, Hydro and Waver Energy. Some forms of Energy are just better suited to some places. For example you can’t build a nuclear plant on top of an earthquake prone region, you can’t build a wind farm near the Dead Sea etc. Hydro Energy can only be built in particular places though enough of those places exist globally. There are areas like the Pacific Northwest which are more suited to this form of energy.

Also read about other forms of Water based EnergyAdvantages and Disadvantages of Tidal Energy.

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Abhishek Shah

2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. EcoGirl

    Thank you! Very informative. :-)

  2. Cosma Vasile

    Did you know that Romania has a technical solution with the highest efficiency to capture wave power?. Patent 108893 entitled Dynamic Engine for Sea Wave Energy Catching. A pioneering invention. It is estimated that “dynamic engine” has the ability to catching wave energy at a rate of over 80% while the other technical solutions known worldwide, are not able to capture wave energy with a higher percentage of about 10-15%. Cosma Vasile. Romania.
    Some information for patent “Dynamic Engine” can be found on:
    – Ocean energy: Wave energy | Climate TechWiki
    – “First Wave Energy Device Connected to Power Grid | Science”
    Summary and drawing for patent “Dynamic Engine” is on page 28.