In the present day scenario where conventional energy sources like fossil fuels are fast depleting, the need for clean, environmentally friendly, and renewable sources of energy is on the rise. Mankind is continually exploring various renewable sources of energy and wave energy is one such source that is being explored for commercial use in the near future. Wave energy can be termed as the energy derived from waves generated/created over the surface of oceans and seas. The winds blowing over the seas create waves, which are then harnessed to create energy.
Wave energy is a powerful and renewable source of energy. There are numerous shorelines and places on earth where wave force produced is large and energy generated, tremendous. Some of the regions where wave energy can be harnessed include the coasts of America, Canada, and Africa. The amount of energy that can be generated from the waves depends on various factors like the speed, wavelength, height of the wave and density of water.
Wave energy can be harnessed either due to pressure changes below the surface or directly from the surface waves of the ocean. The technology to harness wave energy can be installed near the shore or off-shore in far-away locations. There are several methods of exploiting this energy. One of the most famous technologies that has been developed and used commercially is the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter. Some of the other devices and technologies used include overtopping devices, terminator devices, and point absorbers.
Overtopping devices function just like hydro electric power plants, directing waves to an elevated reservoir and harnessing the energy of the water that flows down when it is released back into the ocean.
Terminator devices use the surge of waves to create an oscillating water column in an air chamber below the surface. The trapped air is pushed to run a turbine that generates electricity.
Point absorbers use anchored buoys that tap the rise and fall of waves to run hydraulic pumps to generate power.
Wave energy systems are comparatively less expensive to operate and maintain and can produce large amounts of energy. In addition they do no cause any negative impact on the environment since they do not require any fuel, nor do they generate any green house gases during operation. However there are a few disadvantages. A wave energy system requires consistent strong waves to generate energy; there maybe spills and leaks in the devices used to harness the energy, and it may conflict with the marine life and the transport routes of ships.