Published on February 3rd, 2015 | by Guest Contributor1
The Future of Wave Power
There is good news for the future of wave power. Not only does the technology for tidal energy continue to get better and more cost competitive, there is a growing interest in this wide-open field of study.
As reported on Ecopreneurist, an initiative from the US Department of Energy (DOE), sponsored by the Water Power Program, could give wave energy technology a big boost over the next year and a half.
“What if in the next two years the wave energy industry achieved a technology leap so revolutionary that it would make the cost of wave energy competitive with traditional sources of energy? This could be the result of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wave Energy Prize.” – Wave Energy Prize
The Wave Energy Prize is looking for applicants who can design better wave energy conversion devices, with the goal being to produce a device with the potential to cut the cost of producing electricity from ocean waves by half. The 18-month competition will have participants design and build their wave energy device and then test and evaluate them at the US Navy’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping (MASK) Basin at Carderock, MD, with the overall winner taking in more than $1 million in cash prizes.
And there’s more good news. As reported by Oregon State University, findings from a recent article in the journal Renewable Energy, confirm what scientists have expected – that wave energy will be more consistent than other renewable energy sources, and that larger scale projects are the key to reducing variability. There are so many sources of wave and tidal power available, it seems like there unlimited potential for this blue resource!
Here’s more from the Oregon State University press release:
The variability of alternative energy sources is one factor that holds back their wider use – if wind or solar energy decreases and varies widely, then some other energy production has to back it up, and that adds to the overall cost of energy supply.
Ted Brekken, an associate professor and renewable energy expert in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, says, “By producing wave energy from a range of different sites, possibly with different types of technology, and taking advantage of the comparative consistency of the wave resource itself, it appears that wave energy integration should be easier than that of wind energy,” he said. “The reserve, or backup generation, necessary for wave energy integration should be minimal.”
This estimate of the cost of integrating wind energy indicated that it would be 10 percent or less than the actual charges being made for the integration of wind energy. Energy integration, however, is just one component of the overall cost of the power generated. Wave energy, still in the infancy of its development, is not yet cost competitive on an overall basis.
Wave energy is not now being commercially produced in the Pacific Northwest, but experts say its future potential is significant, and costs should come down as technologies improve and more systems are developed. This study examined the hypothetical addition of 500 megawatts of generating capacity in this region by 2025, which would be comparable to approximately five large wind farms.
Another strength of wave energy, the study suggested, is that its short-term generation capacity can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy over a time scale ranging from minutes to hours, and with some accuracy even seasonally or annually.
The Pacific Northwest has some of the nation’s best wave energy resources, and as a result is home to the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Wave energy in the region is expected to spur economic growth, help diversify the energy portfolio, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce transmission losses, the study noted.
Wave image from Shutterstock