What is Wave Power?
Wave power involves capturing the mechanical energy in waves and turning it into electricity. Wave systems come in a variety of configurations, some using the up and down motion of the wave, some the rocking motion, some the surging motion and some the variations in underwater pressure.
There are several technologies in which research is being done for the conversion of wave energy into electricity, including:
- oscillating air columns that drive air turbines,
- tapered channels that focus waves into a reservoir on cliffs. Electricity is generated by running falling water through a hydro-electric turbine,
- floating vanes that oscillate in the waves, driving turbines directly,
- articulated devices that convert vertical and horizontal movements into electricity.
Wave power is yet to be widely used with many of the planned projects still in feasibility stages and projects consisting of demonstration facilities rather than viable commercial ventures. However, technological advances continue and, by checking out the projects listed above, capacity is on the rise with various ventures in progress around the world.
Wave power can still be considered to be in the prototype stage and, as such, is too early to assess the full potential. For most wave power technologies, environmental impacts are expected to be low.