Wave energy

All seas contain energy in the form of surface waves which can be exploited by wave energy conversion devices. Not all seas provide an economically exploitable resource. A good wave regime will normally be the first consideration. Such regimes are found principally on western coasts facing the world's great oceans. Wave energy exploitation is limited to coastal and near-shore sites, so the opportunity for deployment is restricted. Even so, it is possible that wave energy could supply up to 10% of global electricity demand.8

The development of modern wave energy conversion technology started after the oil price rises of the 1970s. Much work was carried out in the UK but national funding was withdrawn in 1989. Work continued in other countries in Europe and in the USA and Japan. The environmental concerns

Converging Raised lagoon d

Converging Raised lagoon d

Return to the sea

Hydraulic pump

Hydraulic pump

(c) Caison

Hosepump Compressed sea water

Hosepump Compressed sea water to generator station

Pendulum Rea

Pendulum Rea

(c) Caison

Figure 14.3 Wave energy conversion devices. (a) Tarpered channel device (Tapchan); (b) Oscillating water column (OWN); (c) Pivoting flap device (the pendulor); (d) Heaving buoy device (the hosepump)

of the 1990s added further impetus to the wave energy industry and the UK resumed funding in 1999. By the beginning of the twenty-first century a wide variety of different wave generation devices were under development.

Unlike virtually all other power generation technologies, wave energy conversion requires completely unique energy conversion devices. These devices have to convert the wave motion at the sea surface into electricity. Engineers who have addressed the problem have devised a range of novel solutions. These can be categorised in a number of ways but perhaps the simplest is to divide them in to two groups. The first comprises shore and bottom mounted near-shore devices and the second comprises offshore devices.

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