Perhaps one of the richest alternative energy sources is ocean energy, or the energy provided by the sea. What do we mean by the richest? Well, consider the fact that there are three different types of ocean energy, each of them providing us with useful and consistent energy that we can later turn into electricity or use for heating or cooling purposes. Today, we are going to take a closer look at ocean energy by focusing on the following things:
- What are the main types of ocean energy?
- How does each type work?
- What are the advantages of each type of ocean energy?
Ocean Energy Types
Wave energy is, as its name suggests, energy that we draw from waves. Waves are formed when the wind blows over the surface of the sea. Which means that the amount of energy we can draw is somewhat limited. depending on weather conditions. The water’s movement carries kinetic energy. We humans can draw that kinetic energy by using wave energy devices. Some of the most active areas where we encounter this type of energy are: The United States, Australia, Canada, and Scotland.
Advantages of Wave Energy
- It is renewable. One of the most important benefits of wave energy is that it will never run out. Since the wind will never stop blowing, the sea will also never stop forming waves. Even if the waves retreat, they always come back, forming a never-ending cycle that provides us with plenty of energy.
- It is environment friendly. Another really great advantage of wave energy is the fact that the environment doesn’t have to suffer because of us harnessing it. Unlike traditional energy sources, wave energy does not release any pollutants that might hurt our planet in the process. We draw energy straight from the waves into a machine that creates electricity. We later use that electricity to provide generators and power plants with clean energy.
- It is available to many cities. As we already know, a lot of big cities are near important harbors. People can install machinery to make use of wind energy in these harbors. Consequently, they provide cities with electricity that we would otherwise draw from traditional and more dangerous sources.
- It can be harnessed in a lot of ways. People can draw wave energy by using many techniques, which makes this type of renewable energy really effective. Two ways of harnessing wave energy are: hydro turbines that people install in power plants or seafaring vessels that they place in the sea.
- It is easy to keep track of. Unlike energy powered by the sun, we can easily quantify wave energy. That is because we are not depended on whether the sun will shine. This type of energy is pretty consistent, which means that we can keep track of the exact amount we harness.
- It does not damage the land. Traditional energy sources usually take up a lot of land space, which they also damage in the process. When it comes to wave energy, we don’t have to worry about causing the earth any more damage than we already have.
Tidal energy is that type of energy source that people draw from ocean and sea tides. We usually use turbines or barrages to capture energy coming from tides. Then, we turn that energy into electricity that we use in our day-to-day life. How do we do that, you ask? Well, the most common way is using tidal energy generators that we place underwater. However, we cannot place them at random, but only in places with a lot of tidal activity.
Advantages of Tidal Energy
- It is predictable. First of all, the seas and oceans will always form tides. Second of all, specialists can study the patterns of these tides and know for sure when is the best time to harness their power. Unlike solar or wind energy, we normally know what to expect when it comes to tidal energy. Which can only be great news for our production of renewable energy.
- It doesn’t cost a lot of money. Of course, as with all kinds of renewable energy sources, this one too requires an initial investment. Even though this investment might seem a little steep, you should know that once everything is done, you don’t have to worry so much about maintenance. Moreover, the actual process of extracting energy and turning it into electricity does not cost any additional money.
- It doesn’t require a lot of water movement. If you believe that we need extremely powerful tides in order to create electricity, then you will be happy with what we have to tell you. Because water is denser than air, the tides don’t have to be really strong for us to draw energy from them. This means that tidal energy is a more reliable energy source. Consequently, we can harness it even when the tides are not so powerful.
- It can last for a really long time. The tidal energy plants that we use to create energy are extremely durable. So once we build one, we can use it to harness energy for a very long time. This makes us rely less on traditional energy sources that pollute the environment as they provide us with electricity.
- It helps preserve the environment. Speaking of environment preservation, you should know that tidal energy does not release any greenhouse gases or other sources of pollution that could hurt our environment. Consequently, tidal energy is one of the most important clean energy sources that we could use.
Ocean Thermal Energy
Perhaps one of the most interesting and ingenious ocean energy types is ocean thermal energy. This renewable energy source converts the temperature difference between the water in the depths of the ocean and the one at the surface. Furthermore, we can even build ocean thermal energy conversion plants on land.
Advantages of Ocean Thermal Energy
- It will always be available for us to harness. Since the difference in temperature between shallow water and the deep sea will always be there, we don’t have to worry about ever running out of ocean thermal energy to harness. So as long as we continue to build ocean thermal energy conversion plants, we can provide entire cities with electricity.
- It doesn’t pollute the environment. Same as the other two types of ocean energy we discussed above, this one too does not constitute a danger to our environment. We don’t have to worry about any kind of pollution, be it land, water, or air. Moreover, ocean thermal energy does not release any greenhouse gases, which normally contribute to climate change and global warming.
- It can produce hydrogen. You may be asking yourself how can ocean thermal energy produce hydrogen. The answer is by using the electric power already generated by the process of extracting the energy coming from the ocean’s thermal variation.
- It can enrich fishing grounds. Typically, deep waters are rich in nutrients, but they lack any kind of activity. By harnessing ocean energy coming from the temperature difference between the deep waters and the surface of the ocean, we help those nutrients reach the surface. In turn, this helps the fish population multiply, which would lead to richer fishing grounds.
- It can help offshore mining. Since you can build an ocean thermal energy conversion plant virtually anywhere at sea, this could also benefit mining activities. How, you ask? Well, by providing them with the energy required to complete their processes in a clean and environment friendly way.
- It can help tropical islands get rid of pollution. Usually, tropical and sub-tropical islands are quite polluted because of the presence of traditional energy sources. If we were to invest more in ocean energy, then we would help our islands avoid the much dreaded effects of pollution.
Summing Everything Up
Ocean energy is one of the most fascinating renewable energy sources that us humans could use to replace traditional energy providers. One of the reasons why we call it impressive is because one could truly consider it boundless, since we know that the processes that help us harness it will never stop. Of course, we could say the same about solar or wind energy. But what can we do about cloudy or less windy days? Luckily, we can use ocean energy every day, and not fear that it will run out eventually.
Furthermore, as with many other renewable energy sources, ocean energy is also environment friendly. This means that using it could help us preserve the environment for a longer period of time. Finally, ocean energy is also cost-effective, since we only need an initial investment. If we were to put things into perspective, we would realize that the investment is 100% worth it, since it will provide us with a clean and free energy source. These and many other reasons should determine more and more people to consider ocean energy as a valuable renewable energy source.