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Generating Energy From Ocean Waves

Energy Harvesting In Ocean Waves
Energy Harvesting In Ocean Waves

Today, I will be going over wave energy and how we are currently trying to harness it and turn it into usable electricity.  First of all, there are two types of ocean waves: wind powered waves and waves generated by other disturbances.

Wind-powered waves form when wind blows over the water and creates ripples, as more wind goes over the water, the waves either become higher or longer depending on the type of wind hitting it. So essentially waves are powered by the sun because wind is created when the sun heats up air molecules causing them to rise, and cooler air molecules fill in the empty space causing wind.

Another type of wave is created when tectonic plates collide, or large amounts of ice fall off of an ice sheet, or from large mudslides into the ocean, or other non-recurring events.

There is also the tide which is caused by the moon, which happens twice a day and does not have the same potential as wind generated wave power.

So the only consistent form of wave power (which is actually even more reliable than wind power) is wind-created waves. This is because even though the wind is not always blowing, the ocean waves will always be crashing in. The question then is, how is wave power collected?

There are a few different ways to collect it, but the main ones are using pressurized air or pressurized water to turn a turbine.

One way to pressurize air is to create a sealed container with only one exit for the air. On bottom side of the container, the water will rise sending the air through the small exit hole on the top. This will send the air out at constant speed which will turn the turbine; Then when the water leaves, the air will be pulled back though the small hole spinning the turbine again. The turbine generates the electricity.

Another way is to pressurize the water in a cylinder, and again leaving just a small exit for the water to go. When the water is sent through this small hole, the jet stream will turn the turbine generating electricity.

Both of these methods sound good on paper, but unfortunately it is still very expensive to create these wave powered systems. And at this time, it is still much more economical to use coal, oil, solar and wind power mainly because wave-systems still only collect just a small portion of the potential energy sent in through waves.

Author: Steve Papic  has his full bio on his blog at

Source: GoArticles


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1 Comment
  1. Sabrina says

    Just wondering how much energy could they get out of a Tsunami like the recent ones from the Chile earthquake …

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