Electricity generation from water currents has several potential uses and is already compatible with our current grid. But what is ocean energy how is it produced? Is there any importance of ocean energy? We shall examine the ocean energy advantages and disadvantages along with the very basics of ocean energy in this article.

What is Ocean Energy?

There is a tremendous amount of potential energy in the seas. There may be significant advantages to harnessing this energy. So, in general, terms what is ocean energy? Ocean wave energy is concentrated solar energy that is conveyed by the wind and the waves.

Tides, on the other hand, are periodic changes in sea level and the rate of water flow caused by the gravitational pull of the moon, the sun, and other celestial bodies on Earth. Tides change dramatically over time due to a multitude of phenomena associated with the earth’s rotational tilt, rate of spinning, and the interplay between gravitational and rotational forces. Coastal locations are especially susceptible to the effects of tides due to the amplified water flow and increased energy density caused by narrow channels.

  • Currents and Tides: Modular systems can be used to harness the kinetic energy of tidal (marine) currents, while barrages can be built across estuaries to capture the potential energy of tides.
  • Waves: It is possible to harvest ocean waves’ kinetic and potential energy by employing modular technology.
  • Shifts in Temperature: Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) refers to the collection of activities that use the thermal energy present as a result of the temperature difference between the sea’s surface and its depths.
  • Changes in Salinity: Utilizing a pressure-retarded reverse osmosis process and associated conversion technologies, the energy associated with the salinity gradient can be extracted from the point where fresh water and salt water meet at the mouth of rivers.

Hybridization of the aforementioned methods and the exploration of alternative renewable ocean resource ideas, such as hydrothermal vents, are currently under investigation. Energy is also being investigated for many other uses besides power generation, such as desalination for drinking water, compressed air for aquaculture, and hydrogen synthesis via electrolysis. After this, let’s try and understand the 10 ocean energy advantages and disadvantages.

10 Ocean Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

JAN23ocean energy advantages and disadvantagesThe ocean renewable energy sector, particularly the field of tidal current and wave energy conversion technologies, has attracted substantial attention around the world as a result of the introduction of different creative concepts and the reported success of multiple deployments. Like any other energy source, there are many ocean energy advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Ocean Energy

The advantages of ocean energy are as follows-

1. Renewable

Wind generates waves, and the uneven heating of Earth’s surface, due mostly to the sun’s heating of different parts of the globe at different speeds, is the root cause of this uneven heating. Energy in the form of heat is transferred by the wind from one section of the earth to another, where it is then absorbed by the water to generate waves. There will always be waves lashing the coasts of countries with significant populations living in or near coastal areas because the wind will always be present. Unlike fossil resources, which are depleting as quickly as they are being discovered, the ocean’s tides always return to the shore.

2. Protecting the Natural World, Less Carbon Footprint, and No Soil Damage

In contrast to fossil fuels, which produce greenhouse gases, waste, and pollution when they are burned, wave energy is inherently waste- and pollutant-free. In order to power neighboring generators and power plants, the energy from waves can be transferred directly into the equipment that produces electricity. Finding a reliable source of renewable energy is challenging in today’s energy-dependent world.

Less than a square mile of ocean floor space is needed to host a wave power plant that can generate enough energy to power roughly 20,000 American homes.

Wave power does not harm the planet in any way, in contrast to the extraction of fossil fuels, which can leave big holes in the ground. It’s one of the most favored ways to harness energy from the sea, and it’s safe and environmentally friendly to boot.

3. Plenty and Easily Accessible

This energy source is conveniently located near areas that can put it to good use. Many major urban centers and ports are situated near the coast, making it possible to harness the energy of the waves. Because of the high population density of coastal communities, residents are likely to adapt effectively to the noise and vibrations generated by the wave energy plants.

4. Cut Back on Reliance on Overseas Oil Giants

If the full potential of wave power were to be harnessed, we would be less reliant on fossil fuels imported from other countries. It can generate green jobs for millions of people and reduce air pollution at the same time.

5. Extensive Methods for Harnessing

This information may be gathered in many ways, which is another advantage. Hydro turbines in stationary power facilities are one option, while gigantic structures thrown into the ocean by ships to harvest wave energy are another.

6. Reliable

Wave power is dependable since it is constantly available. This is due to the fact that waves are perpetually in flux. There may be fluctuations, but the underlying average motion is constant. As a result, energy collection is a constant process. It is a known fact that the quantity of energy generated and transmitted by waves varies seasonally and annually. But the generation of energy is constant.

7. Extremely High Levels of Energy Can be Generated

The potential for generating energy from ocean waves is staggering. Power density is roughly 30 kilowatts to 40 kilowatts per linear meter of wave length along the shoreline. As we continue to dive deeper, the power density rises to around 100 kW. This thing is absolutely massive.

8. Effective Energy Generation

At the coast, the energy density of waves is around 30–40 kW/m, but at greater depths, the energy density of waves can reach up to 100 kW/m. More than 30 megawatts (MW) of power, enough to supply energy to 20,000 British households, may be generated from an area of the ocean less than half a mile square.

9. Larger in Stature

Wave energy devices can be made in a variety of sizes to accommodate the electricity needs of specific regions. The production of power from fossil fuels, on the other hand, typically necessitates the construction of massive infrastructure.

10. Cost-Effective Operations and Reduced Breakdown Frequency

In most cases, once we bring up wave energy facilities, they can operate entirely on their own. Since there is no need for fuel, there are fewer negative effects from transportation, and fewer maintenance issues arise when using wave power and energy. If the upfront costs are reasonable, this technology has the potential to be beneficial for everyone involved.

Also Read: A Smarter Greener San Leandro: Committing to a Clean Energy Future with a Community-Powered Microgrid

Disadvantages of Ocean Energy 

After learning about the advantages of ocean energy, you must be eager to know its disadvantages. These are the disadvantages of ocean energy-

1. Location-Dependent Appropriateness

One major drawback of wave energy is the need to be near an ocean. The only places that will immediately benefit from it are coastal towns and power plants. Due to its origin, wave energy is not suitable for usage by all. However, wave energy is not the only clean energy solution, as countries and towns that are not near the sea must find other means of generating electricity.

2. Effect on Marine Ecosystem

Even though wave energy is pure, it nonetheless poses risks to certain organisms that are exposed to it. In order to harvest energy from the waves, massive devices must be placed near and even in the ocean. The vibrations and noise from these devices are disruptive to the marine environment, and they alter the habitat of near-shore animals like crabs and starfish. It is also possible for harmful chemicals employed on wave energy platforms to leak out and contaminate the water around them.

3. Exorbitant Expenditures

Even while there are many positive aspects of wave energy, the tremendous cost of producing it is a major downside. A huge infrastructure is needed to convert wave energy into usable forms. The longevity of the relevant technologies is thus highly questionable. Given the unpredictability of the waves. When the waves are particularly powerful, they can cause catastrophic failure of the machinery. Repairing and purchasing gear of this type incurs colossal costs. In addition, the investment required to build a power mill to convert this energy into usable form is enormous. Moreover, it is not sufficient to merely install a mill. Upkeep needs to be attended to. The whole total of these expenses is staggering.

4. Disturbance Producing Factor for Recreational and Commercial Ships

It also causes disruptions for both public and private ships, which is a negative aspect. To be effective, wave-energy power plants must be located near the shore, and these facilities are most useful when located close to densely inhabited areas. However, these locations serve as significant ports of entry for a wide variety of vessels, including cargo ships, cruise ships, RVs, and beachgoers. The construction of a wave energy collection source will cause significant disruption to all of these activities involving both land and sea-based users. That’s why it’s important for governments and businesses interested in wave energy to address the concerns of those they might disrupt before making any investments in the field.

5. Noise and Visual Pollution

For someone residing near coastal regions, wave energy/ocean energy generators can be very unpleasant. These large generators work in the middle of oceans and destroy their beauty as well as peace. These machines are also responsible for noise pollution. However, most of their noise is covered by the waves.

6. Tough to Climb

The fact that no utility can yet deploy wave farms since they are not yet large enough to supply a considerable amount of electricity is maybe the largest disadvantage at the time. It’s true that certain wave energy systems have been tried in Scotland, Hawaii, and most recently Australia, however, their maximum power output is only about 2.5MW. Although the market is predicted to expand, it is difficult to deploy wave energy producers on a practical scale at this time.

7. Advances in Technology are Moving at a Snail’s Pace

Even while research on wave energy has continued since the 1700s, the technology is far from mature. This sluggish progress is a barrier to financing this renewable energy source.

8. Inconveniently Contagious

Transporting power generated from ocean waves over long distances to inland consumers is now a formidable technical challenge.

9. Wavelength

Wind power is fully dependent on water density, wavelength, and wave speed. To generate a significant amount of Ocean power, a consistent flow of powerful waves is needed. However, because of the unreliable wave behavior of some areas its highly unpredictable to forecast fully accurate wave power. You can never fully trust ocean power as a reliable energy source.

10. Weak Performance in Rough Weather

During rough weather conditions, the performance of wave power sees significant drops. They need to withstand rough weather conditions.

After going through all this, you should have understood ocean energy advantages and disadvantages. Now, its time to learn about types of ocean energy in the following para.

Also Read: All About Fuel Cell Advantages

Types of Ocean Energy

JAN23ocean energy advantages and disadvantages
Image by Getty Images on Unsplash+

After learning about ocean energy advantages and disadvantages, you must also learn about the types of ocean energy-

1. Tidal energy: In order to harness the power of the tides, tidal power plants are constructed on river estuaries and are designed to store and release large volumes of water twice daily.

2. Wave energy: The strength of the ocean’s waves can be harnessed through the use of mechanical equipment. Large experimental plants, which were once only a few miles from shore, are now venturing out into open water.

3. Ocean current energy: The energy of ocean currents is on par with that of the wind at the surface. This energy is captured by means of underwater turbines, which are essentially huge propellers anchored to the seafloor.

4. Ocean thermal energy: A lot of heat is stored in the oceans, making them a good thermal energy source. In intertropical locations, the difference in temperature between the warm surface waters and the colder subsurface layers can be exploited to generate steam and, ultimately, power.

5. Osmotic energy: The most unexpected method is osmotic energy, which uses the pressure difference between saltwater and freshwater behind a membrane to generate electricity.

There is no denying the merits of these alternative energy sources. They exist in great quantities, are stable and predictable, and can be harnessed in many parts of the planet. A number of nations have begun testing the technology, and some plants are currently producing power on a commercial scale.

Also See: Advantages and Disadvantages of Tidal Energy

What is the Importance of Ocean Energy?

It’s common knowledge that climate change is a major risk to the oceans. And as promised in the introduction this is where you will know the importance of ocean energy. The coastal populations and the marine creatures the oceans support are already feeling the effects of ocean warming and acidity. These points will help you understand the importance of ocean energy-

1. Clean, Emission-Free Electricity

Technologies that harness ocean energy take advantage of the tides’ regular currents, the waves’ undulating motion, or the temperature and salinity gradients found in the ocean. But they have one thing in common: they use no fuel and emit no pollution. Once deployed, these machines can continue to produce power without pollution for decades.

The expansion of ocean energy installations has a multiplier effect on the growth of other carbon-free, renewable energy sources. Since the ocean is continually in motion, it can provide reliable power even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. In order to maintain a stable supply and demand in a carbon-free electrical network, a diverse portfolio of renewable energy sources is required.

Even if the carbon footprint of making and delivering these devices isn’t zero, it’s comparable to that of other renewable energy sources and much smaller than that of coal or natural gas. This “life-cycle” impact will diminish further as the steel, cement, and transportation industries work to cut their emissions.

2. Developing Protected Areas for Animals

Evidence suggests that ocean-energy installations can have a marine-reserve effect, as some species are able to take refuge under and around the structures, away from predators, while also being able to feed and reproduce without interference.

The structures are often colonized by creatures, leading to an artificial-reef effect, which in turn attracts fish and other animals. Trawling frequently eliminates the few naturally occurring hard surfaces found in marine habitats. Like sunken shipwrecks and offshore wind turbines, the foundations of ocean-energy equipment provide a perfect habitat for countless fish, crayfish, and mollusks.

3. Keeping With the Natural Order of Things

Moreover, there is no evidence that ocean energy has a harmful impact on the marine ecosystem, therefore it can coexist with all kinds of marine life.

It is reasonable to think about how ocean-energy devices interact with the marine life that shares the ocean with them. Thus far, there has not been a single instance of marine creatures hitting a device in all the monitoring that has been done. Machines that harness energy from tidal streams and waves rotate considerably more slowly than a wind turbine does through the air, have fewer moving parts, and are in tune with the motion of the water.

Human-caused noise has been identified as a major issue when considering marine ecosystems, yet the installation of ocean-energy devices is usually fast and quiet. Pile-driving to anchor foundations is not required, thus the region is not disrupted, and fish and mammals that move out during installation immediately return. The noise levels produced by the machines themselves are negligible, being significantly lower than those of ships and other vessels yet nevertheless audible.

Although electromagnetic fields are ubiquitous in the ocean, they are frequently cited as a potential threat to marine life. Although electricity lines can affect these areas, research suggests that the ecological effects are minimal and that animals in the area are safe.

Also Read: Hydrogen Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

What is Ocean Energy Used For?

So, want to know what is ocean energy used for. Waves, currents, and tides are constantly moving and can be harnessed to provide clean renewable energy. There are specialized tools used to get energy from the sea. Certain elements of these systems move with the water’s movement to catch the energy; this motion then generates power, which is transmitted to the coast. One way to harness the power of the ocean’s currents is to utilize buoys or turbines.

The rising and falling of the waves cause the buoy to rise and fall. This is a term used to describe buildings that float on the water and rise and fall with the tide. A variety of systems, such as a cylinder with a piston attached to it, are used to control these floats. A piston is a rotating cylinder or disc that fits snugly inside another rotating cylinder to compress or transport a fluid like air or water, or to change energy. propelling a generator to produce electricity from motion. Anchors can be fastened to spars, which are long columns. Buoys are supported by thick, sturdy poles called spars, which are lowered to the bottom of the water. Alternatively, the whole thing could just be floating in the water. These gadgets can be deployed either far out in the open sea or in shallower coastal areas.

The oceans encompass around 70% of the Earth’s surface. There is no more pervasive or possibly more powerful renewable resource than ocean energy. It’s a resource that can be harnessed without causing harm to the ocean, and the result will be a boon to both the environment and humanity. That’s an objective well worth pursuing. This article was an attempt to make you understand What is ocean energy? What are the various types of ocean energy? What is ocean energy used for? The importance of ocean energy. Along with the advantages of ocean energy and also some of the ocean energy disadvantages.

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Olivia is committed to green energy and works to help ensure our planet's long-term habitability. She takes part in environmental conservation by recycling and avoiding single-use plastic.

1 Comment

  1. Eckart Schumann on

    Dear Olivia
    I would like to refer to your excellent overview in a paper I am submitting on energy from the Agulhas Current. Please advise me on the reference.
    Thank you

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