- Renewable & Alternative Energy
Alternative Energy Sources: Tidal Energy and Wave Energy
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?
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.
This sounds like it would be almost the same as tidal energy, but it is different. There are three methods to harness this energy.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.