Potential as a Source of Green Energy

Good wave power locations ideally exhibit a flux of about 50 kW/m of shoreline. Variable sea conditions suggest that capturing 20% of this (or 10 kW/m) in sites that are not unfeasibly hostile is within the realms of possibility. Assuming very large scale deployment of (and investment in) wave power technology, coverage of 5000 km of shoreline (worldwide) is plausible [22], although not by 2030. Therefore, the potential for shoreline-based wave power is about 50 GW. Given that only half of this power can be converted to electrical power, because of wave system inefficiencies, we can assume that global wave power can, at best, provide 25 GW to the grid and 22 GW to the consumer. This is a tiny fraction (0.11%) of the 20 TW likely to be required by mankind by 2030. Deep water wave power resources are truly enormous, but can be completely ruled out as far as major exploitation in a 20-25 year time frame is concerned.

The difficulties of exploitation in deep sea environments are of such a severity that it has frightened off investment in marine solutions and this has resulted in wave power being the laggard of the renewables industry. Even with a massive turn around in investment today (i.e., in 2008), the wave power contribution to mankind's needs by 2030 will remain relatively insignificant.

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