Ocean Power Makes Waves

Reader Contribution by Peyton Baldwin

Did you know that waves, tides and currents can be sources of energy?

It’s called hydrokinetics, and several new projects are beginning to harness more of this energy. Tidal turbines resemble wind turbines. One big difference, though, is that tides are much more predictable than wind. The Electric Power Research Institute says tidal power can produce electricity at competitive prices similar to wind power. To learn more about how tidal turbines work click here and here.

One tidal power system is located near New York City’s Roosevelt Island. Verdant Power is using these six turbines to study how they affect marine ecosystems. They will observe how many fish swim into the strong currents near the turbines for 18 months before proceeding with even bigger plans, which include installing up to 100 turbines in the East River with a new, easier to mass-produce turbine.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has scouted out the best locations in the United States and 25 sites have preliminary permits for tidal turbine farms with another 31 sites for consideration. The San Francisco Bay is another location where studies are being conducted to determine the efficiency of tidal power.

Other areas of the world have installed several tidal farms in the last several years. Devon, England boasts a 300 kilowatt turbine and the Bay of Fundy and British Columbia are proposed sites for a one and two megawatt system, respectively.

Portugal has the world’s first commercial wave farm. It’s launch is scheduled for the beginning of this  month. The farm consists of three snake-like tubes that are slightly submerged but facing the waves. Each tube can produce 750 kilowatts, which means over two megawatts total. To learn how wave farms work, click here.