Wave energy is as source of power that comes from the endless march of the waves as they roll into the shore then back out again. Humans harness this power along the coastal regions of the United States, Canada, Scotland, and Australia. Energy that comes from the waves in the ocean sounds like a boundless, harmless supply. But is it without its drawbacks? Lets take a look.
Advantages of Wave Energy
1. Renewable: The best thing about wave energy is that it will never run out. There will always be waves crashing upon the shores of nations, near the populated coastal regions. The waves flow back from the shore, but they always return. Unlike fossil fuels, which are running out, in some places in the world, just as quickly as people can discover them. Unlike ethanol, a corn product, waves are not limited by a season. They require no input from man to make their power, and they can always be counted on.
2. Environment Friendly: Also unlike fossil fuels, creating power from waves creates no harmful byproducts such as gas, waste, and pollution. The energy from waves can be taken directly into electricity-producing machinery and used to power generators and power plants nearby. In today’s energy-powered world, a source of clean energy is hard to come by.
3. Abundant and Widely Available :Another benefit to using this energy is its nearness to places that can use it. Lots of big cities and harbors are next to the ocean and can harness the power of the waves for their use. Coastal cities tend to be well-populated, so lots of people can get use from wave energy plants.
4. Variety of Ways To Harness : A final benefit is that there are a variety of ways to gather it. Current gathering methods range from installed power plant with hydro turbines to seafaring vessels equipped with massive structures that are laid into the sea to gather the wave energy.
5. Easily Predictable : The biggest advantages of wave power as against most of the other alternative energy sources is that it is easily predictable and can be used to calculate the amount that it can produce. The wave energy is consistent and proves much better than other sources which are dependent on wind or sun exposure.
6. Less Dependency on Foreign Oil Cos : Dependence on foreign companies for fossil fuels can be reduced if energy from wave power can be extracted up to its maximum. Not only it will help to curb air pollution but can also provide green jobs to millions of people.
7. No Damage to Land : Unlike fossil fuels which cause massive damage to land as they can leave large holes while extracting energy from them , wave power does not cause any damage to earth. It is safe, clean and one of the preferred method to extract energy from ocean.
Disadvantages of Wave Energy
But wait, there’s— more to it than just a source of clean energy. It has its drawbacks as well.
1. Suitable to Certain Locations : The biggest disadvantage to getting your energy from the waves is location. Only power plants and towns near the ocean will benefit directly from it. Because of its source, wave energy is not a viable power source for everyone. Landlocked nations and cities far from the sea have to find alternate sources of power, so wave energy is not the clean energy solution for everyone.
2. Effect on marine Ecosystem : As clean as wave energy is, it still creates hazards for some of the creatures near it. Large machines have to be put near and in the water to gather energy from the waves. These machines disturb the seafloor, change the habitat of near-shore creatures (like crabs and starfish) and create noise that disturbs the sea life around them. There is also a danger of toxic chemicals that are used on wave energy platforms spilling and polluting the water near them.
3. Source of Disturbance for Private and Commercial Vessels : Another downside is that it disturbs commercial and private vessels. Power plants that gather wave energy have to be placed by the coastline to do their job, and they have to be near cities and other populated areas to be of much use to anybody. But these are places that are major thoroughfares for cargo ships, cruise ships, recreational vehicles and beach goers. All of these people and vessels will be disrupted by the installation of a wave energy gathering source. This means that government officials and private companies that want to invest in wave energy sources have to take into account and consider the needs of those they may be disturbing.
4. Wavelength : Wind power is highly dependent on wavelength i.e. wave speed, wave length, wavelength and water density. They require a consistent flow of powerful waves to generate significant amount of wave power. Some areas experience unreliable wave behavior and it becomes unpredictable to forecast accurate wave power and therefore cannot be trusted as reliable energy source.
5. Weak Performance in Rough Weather : The performance of wave power drops significantly during rough weather. They must withstand rough weather.
6. Noise and Visual pollution : Wave energy generators may be unpleasant for some who live close to coastal regions. They look like large machines working in the middle of the ocean and destroy the beauty of the ocean. They also generate noise pollution but the noise is often covered by the noise of waves which is much more than that of wave generators.
None of this is to say that wave energy cannot be useful, but those interested in using it to create power have to look at both sides of the equation. They should consider the positives and negatives of this new energy source and consider who and what they may be disturbing. Who knows what the future holds for this newly-discovered energy source.