Wave Power Lags Behind Other Renewable Energy Sources

Wave Power, Renewable Energy's Red-Headed Step-Child?
Wave Power, Renewable Energy’s Red-Headed Step-Child?

As many have noted, there is energy all around us, and it’s not all locked up in fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources are varied, but it takes some doing to extract it with any efficiency.

Lots of research has gone into renewable energy, whether hydroelectric, wind power, solar power, geothermal energy, and even wave power. We’ve seen a lot of development in many of these areas. Wind farms are getting bigger and more efficient than ever, and have even been shown to be cheaper per kWh than some fossil fuel plants. Solar power plants are also getting larger and more efficient. Various forms of geothermal energy are being used around the world.

One renewable energy source, however, seems to be lagging behind all the others, wave power. In spite of hundreds of different theories and designs, wave power is perhaps the least-exploited renewable energy source in the world. “Why?” you may ask, but then maybe you’ve never seen Poseidon or The Abyss. The fact is, the ocean is a dangerous place, not only for human beings, but also for machinery and electronics.

Renewable energy harvesting equipment on land don’t have nearly as many problems to deal with, so it makes sense that on-shore wind power and solar power has seen its recent boost. Ocean waves, however, are far stronger than any gust of wind, so harvesting equipment needs to be far more robust, increasing costs. Salty ocean water is also highly corrosive, both for metal parts and electrical generating equipment. Any leak would be highly expensive and dangerous to repair.

Will wave power ever catch up to other renewable energy sources? Given the difficulties that any underwater expedition encounters, and the fallibility of most human inventions and contraptions, it may be decades, or never, before wave power really becomes a viable and widespread renewable energy source.


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