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Ocean Wave Energy

Updated on January 22, 2015

Catching A Wave

I read an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, which I love, that gave me hope for a cleaner and more efficient energy source. That source is wave energy. When you think about the ocean, its waves coming in and going out, over and over, it seems so practical and you wonder way it wasn't done long ago. Engineer van Jouanne says "patents have been around since 1799." That's a long time. Annette van Jouanne claims that the ocean's boundless energy could furnish up to 6.5 percent of U.S. electricity.

While surfing one day in 1995, Annette begin to think of the tremendous power that was in waves. What really hit home with her was the fact that wave energy is always there. It never stops. She felt that its energy could be harnessed efficiently and responsibly. And, the ocean apparatus that would generate kilowatts could be much smaller that those that are used to generate power from wind and solar. What needed to be considered was the power and destructive element that is capable of the ocean and some mechanism which would withstand its power. In doing so, it would need to remain harmless to the sea animals and its environment. She has developed a wave energy converter buoy. It contains coils inside an anchored column surrounded by a magnet attached to a float. Waves move the float up and down, and the electromagnetic interaction generates current.

Engineer van Jouanne has joined the forces of the Oregon State University and the Wallace Energy Systems and Renewables Facility (WESRF), or best known as "We Surf", also located in Oregon. She continues her research and dedication to ocean wave energy.

Photo credit: Oregon State University

Wave Energy

What is wave energy?

Wave energy is an irregular and oscillating low-frequency energy source that can be converted to a 60-Hertz frequency and can then be added to the electric utility grid. The energy in waves comes from the movement of the ocean and the changing heights and speed of the swells. Kinetic energy, the energy of motion, in waves is tremendous. An average 4-foot, 10-second wave striking a coast puts out more than 35,000 horsepower per mile of coast.

Waves get their energy from the wind. Wind comes from solar energy. Waves gather, store, and transmit this energy thousands of miles with little loss. As long as the sun shines, wave energy will never be depleted. It varies in intensity, but it is available twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

Ocean wave energy technologies rely on the up-and-down motion of waves to generate electricity. The first wave-power patent was for a 1799 proposal by a Parisian named Monsieur Girard and his son to use direct mechanical action to drive pumps, saws, mills, or other heavy machinery. Installations have been built or are under construction in a number of countries, including Scotland, Portugal, Norway, the U.S.A., China, Japan, Australia and India.

Where are the best waves?

Generally, extreme latitudes and west coasts of continents. View global wave atlas (based on satellite data) and another world wave map

The world's first commercial wave energy plant, .5 MW, developed by WaveGen is located in Isle of Islay, Scotland.

Here is wave data from the National Data Buoy Center or the Army, or the Scripps West Coast wave data system. You can also try or for a fee. It has been estimated that the total available US wave energy resource is 23 GW- more than twice as much as Japan, and nearly five times as much as Great Britain.

Continue: Wave Energy

Photo: Annette Von Jouanne

Wave Energy Device

Powerful Ocean Waves

Powerful waves... The music for this video is Nothing Else Matters by Gregorian.

There are patents going back to 1799," says Annette von Jouanne, professor

Generating Power From the Ocean

Ocean Wave Power Plant Patented ocean wave energy converting electric power plant/beach replenishment system. Listen to Peter Boyce, who was running for congress in 2010, talk about his invention to help with energy.

Frontiers of Science

A Little Known Fact!

In 1909, ocean wave power was used to light lamps on the Huntington Beach

Wharf until a storm carried the apparatus out to sea.

Oh my, I was afraid you would not stop by!

MY GUESTS - Thanks for coming.

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    • attraction 42 profile image

      attraction 42 

      6 years ago

      "free" energy is not in the interest of the current energy providers..

    • orange3 lm profile image

      orange3 lm 

      6 years ago

      I hope this concept continues to grow :)

      We should use all alternative energy sources more.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      7 years ago from Ljubljana

      Wave energy has great potential but I am afraid not enough support of influential people.

    • aerome profile image


      8 years ago

      Interesting. More people should realize the power of the ocean.

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 

      8 years ago from Idaho

      Very interesting idea!

    • Amy Fricano profile image

      Amy Fricano 

      8 years ago from WNY

      super topic. so glad you did this.

    • blue22d profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks Jenny, I agree. I have two granddaughters that I will want to share several of my lenses with, and several lenses from lensmasters that created with a child in mind. Thanks for stopping by.

    • jennysue19 profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a really worthwhile lens - well done

    • jennysue19 profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a really worthwhile and interesting lens - homeschoolers wake up - this is the kind of thing your kids should be learning about!


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