In is possible to extract energy from the surface

In consideration of future generations, it is important that the types of energy we use are sustainable. Ocean waves have huge energy potential and it is possible to extract energy from the surface motion of ocean waves which are caused by wind. Wave power, dependent on wave length, speed, and water density, can be unpredictable which makes it difficult to collect consistent power from waves. To address this problem, there is more than one way to collect wave power. Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are three major fossil fuels, together making up more than half of the United State’s energy consumption in 2016 1.  We can see what type and how much energy is used in figure 1. Not only are fossil fuels non-replaceable, but they contribute to three-quarters of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 2. CO2 emissions contribute to global warming, causing drought, rising sea levels, and extreme weather all of which is detrimental to our environment and other ecosystems. 3.The Electric Power Research Institute completed a report in 2005 analyzing wave power potential. It was found the annual tidal energy potential is about 600 GWh/year (Tacoma Narrows – WA). Limiting the energy collection to just 10-20% of the available tidal energy would still generate enough electric power and energy to supply 100% of the electricity for 6000 to 12,000 homes (at 10,000 kWh/yr/home) 4.  There are four ways in which wave power can be harnessed. Terminator devices, found near or on the shore, catch waves which cause a water column inside the device to move up and down. The up and down movement forces air through an opening that then powers a turbine to generate power. See figure 2.Attenuators lie parallel to the surface of the water. The device flexes as it moves with the waves, which affects hydraulic pumps within and generates power. See figure 3.Point absorbers are found floating away from shore or moored to the sea floor. Waves interacting with the structure cause parts inside to move relative to each other, for example, like a floating buoy inside a cylinder. The movement drives electromechanical or hydraulic energy converters to generate power 5.Overtopping reservoirs are found on and off shore and take advantage of the potential energy coming from waves. The structure gets filled by incoming waves then releases the water. The energy from the falling water is used to turn hydro turbines to generate power. See figure 4.Currently, about 45 wave energy companies are at an advanced stage of technological development 9. Advantages of wave power include how it is renewable, with no fuel needed nor waste produced. It is also inexpensive to operate and maintain and can produce a great amount of energy. With more than one way to collect wave power, we should invest more in waves to make renewable energy a larger percentage of our energy consumption because fossil fuels will eventually be depleted as a source. 


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