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Alternative Energy Sources: Tidal Energy and Wave Energy

Updated on January 20, 2012

Alternative Resources

There are a lot of different types of alternative energy that are being researched to replace the dependency on fossil fuels. There is solar energy, wind energy, bio-fuel, ethanol, geothermic, and hydroelectric, just to name a few.

But . . .

There is a way to get energy from the oceans. A few ways, actually. It is called Tidal Energy and Wave Power, and, essentially, it is using the force of the waves to generate energy.

Is it effective? Is it a viable source? Is this the most effective type of renewable energy available? This hub will discuss the pros and cons of tidal energy and the pros and cons of Wave Power, how they work, and the designs of each. Let's get to the bottom of these types of energy.

How Does Tidal Energy and Wave Energy Work?

Tidal Energy

A barrage is created in an estuary or just outside of a river that pours into the ocean. In the barrage, water turbines are installed. The propellers are right into the water with a generator located right above the water line. As the tide goes out and comes in, the propellers spin and generate energy. The energy is then sent out to the grid.

Tidal Power

Wave Energy

This sounds like it would be almost the same as tidal energy, but it is different. There are three methods to harness this energy.

  1. Pelamis Wave Power - A snake-like device floats on top of the water. As the waves go under the snake, a generator is powered. The energy is then put out on to the grid.
  2. Oscillating Water Column - This looks a little like a buoy. Air enters into a chamber at the top of the water. As the waves move, air enters and exits the chamber. As the air exits, a turbine is turned to create energy. It's a little like a piston in a combustible engine without an air/fuel mixture and a spark.
  3. Over Topping Device - This is a large structure in which water fills a basin. When the water in the basin becomes a higher level than the water around it, the water in the basin is released and a turbine is powered. This is a lot like hydroelectric power.

All these methods, from Tidal and Wave power, produce electricity. These methods are pretty cool when you think about it. But . . . what are the pros and cons of these alternative energy resources.

Pros and Cons of Tidal and Wave Energy

Pros of Tidal Energy

  • Once the structures are built, the energy is free. And it is clean and renewable.
  • Maintenance is cheap.
  • The efficiency ratio for getting this energy is really high.
  • Efficiency increases with better and stronger waves.
  • This energy does not fluctuate.

Cons of Tidal Energy

  • Causes environmental changes, from the installation, to the propellers disturbing the underwater life.
  • Places where these stations can be built are limited.
  • Energy can only be produced when the tides are at the right level.
  • Installation is tricky.
  • The technology is not fully developed.

Pros of Wave Energy

  • Creates less environmental damage than Tidal Energy.
  • The systems are less visible than other forms of energy sources.
  • This is predictable energy. You know when tides and waves are coming.
  • Once the area is built and a wave farm is created, it is cheap to maintain.

Cons of Wave Energy

  • Ultimately, this energy is expensive right now. It might go down, but right now, it's more expensive than fossil fuels.
  • Technology needs to be further developed.
  • Property difficulties. Oceans are common space and there can be disputes when it comes to making wave farms.
  • Environmental damage may be viewed as low right now, but the technology is still new. There could be more damage.

Is This Good?

Tidal and Wave energy has a lot of potential. But there are a lot of unknowns and a lot of ways for this energy to grow. Is this energy better than solar and wind energy? Maybe it could be. But there are a lot of possibilities. It needs a little more time to develop. We just need to wait and see.


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    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Wave and tidal energy have a lot of potential and when the technology will be improved, it can really rock. I don't think ecological impact is among biggest problems, because it is clearly measurable and quite predictable, what can't be said for fossil fuels (including bio fuel), nuclear power and even production of solar cells.

      We'll see how will thing turn out when the power of tides clashes with the power of lobbies ... I have a feeling we don't have a lot of green options right now. But a man can always hope, right?

    • profile image

      bob 4 years ago

      bob is bob

    • profile image

      bob 5 years ago

      this is very interrssting

    • Vegas Elias profile image

      Vegas Elias 5 years ago from Mumbai

      Hi,I found this hub informative and interesting. However governments and corporations throughout the world are more interested in quicker means of energy like nuclear energy. I feel tidal energy and wave energy can be tapped at the village level efficiently.I voted you up on this hub.

    • Cammiebar profile image

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York


      You are absolutely right. It is a total uphill battle and I always thought that the gas companies have bought the rights to a lot of different alternative fuels so we can be dependent on their own product. Hopefully, things will get a lot better real soon. All the best!

    • aDayInMyLife1 profile image

      Amanda S 5 years ago from CA

      Thanks for the information. I hope we as a world do invest in sustainable and efficient energy sources. I fear that the greed of man will hinder such progress. Too much money is made by ensuring that people are reliable on gasoline. It's an uphill battle we are facing

    • Cammiebar profile image

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you for your comment!

      That is one of the drawbacks to wave and tidal energy--only places next to an ocean or estuary can really use it.

    • profile image

      Ghost32 5 years ago

      I definitely learned something new here--thanks!

      Although I'm not sure I can get a wave farm working properly here in the Arizona desert....

      Voted Up and More.

    • Cammiebar profile image

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      I agree. The more research I do regarding the various methods, the more I'm certain that turning to other resources is best. Personally, I think that tidal and wave energy has a long way to go, but wind and solar can be done now. Thank you for your comment!

    • LoriSoard profile image

      LoriSoard 5 years ago from Henryville, Indiana

      Interesting article. We have been thinking about getting a windmill and maybe some solar panels. I do think alternative energy is the way to go these days.