Wave energy

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7Wave Energy Technology

Wave Energy Technology

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Wave Energy Technology


The massive potential of wave energy has been accepted in the recent years, primarily with the increasing need to lower emissions that affect the environment. Due to the South Australian (SA) Government long history of using renewable energy as part of its core electricity production, it is imperative to adopt a source of energy that can produce electricity in a manner that meets the objective of lowering environmental footprint. Wave energy is a suitable alternative to other forms of energy that frequently subject society to various types of emissions. This paper proposes increased exploration and adoption of wave energy.

An Overview of Wave Energy

Wave energy can be deliberated as a concentrated form of solar energy. As the wind passes over open bodies of water, they are generated by the differential heating of the earth; as a result, they transfer some of their energy to form waves. The energy is stored in waves as both Kinetic energy (in the motion of water particles) and potential energy (in the mass of water displaced from the main sea level). The quantity of energy that is usually transferred depends on the speed of the wind and the amount of time in which the wind blows and the distance over which it blows. Power is often concentrated at every stage in the process of transformation. Consequently, the original average of solar power levels typically 100 W/m2,can be converted into waves with power levels of typically 10 to 50k W meter of wave crest length (Brooke, 2003).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wave Energy

Low Rate of Environmental Emission: A fundamental advantage of wave energy is that it is less environmentally degrading as opposed other sources of power generation essentially in relations to emissions. In most cases during the production process, the devices used do not produce liquid, gaseous or solid emission, therefore, in a normal operation, wave energy is virtually a non- polluting source (Brooke, 2003).

Production Technology is successfully tested and
proven: Another advantage of wave energy is that generator designs have successfully been tested and proven. The technology, is therefore, ready for use. Over the years, various types of machinery have been devised in order to produce wave energy. The most efficient wave design developed to date is the Salter Duck, which is a cam system that looks a bit like a bobbing duck. The technology absorbs 90% of the energy from passing wave leaving a calm sea in its wake (Haven, 2011).

Renewable: Unlike the fossil fuel energy sources, wave power is a renewable source of energy. This source of energy comes from the heat energy emitted from the sun meaning that this source of energy will not disappear anytime soon as long as the sun continues to burn out. Wave energy is a concentrated form of solar energy, the sun produces temperature differences across the globe, and this causes the wind to blow over the surface of the ocean (Cruz 2008).


Energy Potential: Although the prospective amount of energy that can be produced from waves can be rated as 30-40 kW for every meter along the shore, and in deep sea the rating is about 100kW (Maehlum, 2013). However, it can be argued that the capability of wave energy to produce electricity is affected by various factors which can lower its energy potential. A study conducted by Gunnar et al. (2010) to assess the global wave energy potential disclosed that although wave energy has been propagated as a potential source of energy, its potential for producing high energy levels is limited. The study used the global wind-wave model in order to estimate the amount of energy that can be generated the waves. The findings of the study disclosed that the annual power distribution reduced in areas such as the as the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula indicating a significant reduction of energy from the north to the south. The study projected that the gross global resources can be rated at 3.7 TW. Nevertheless, some regions produce very low energy amounting to P≤ 5kW/m. Production in such areas is usually affected by sea ice which lowers the reserve by 20% (Gunnar et al. 2010).

Costs: Wave power is still in its initial stages of development and determining the actual cost of establishing this source of energy in different parts of the world can be difficult. Currently, the cost of generating wave power is high and requires sufficient funding from the government. Regular maintenance cost is also a disadvantage of this source of energy (Kadiri et al 2012).

Environmental Impacts: The escalating need for energy, the objective to resolve climate change problems and the depletion of oil reserves have resulted to an increased pursuit of alternative sources of energy to generate electricity. Wave energy is therefore considered feasible despite the view that it is economically unattractive. A disadvantage that emerges is that; when the system is implemented to generate electricity, it significantly alters the characteristics of tidal flow which can impact the water environment (Kadiri et al 2012).

Recommendations to the South Australian Government

Based on the above presentation, it is evident that wave energy has benefits that can be tapped by the region predominantly in electricity production initiatives. What is patent is that there is need to prevent climate change at all costs. In addition, the demand for energy in society is rising. Additionally, wave energy lowers the dependence on of foreign supply of energy (Mustafa, et al. 2016). Electricity has to be produced and it is imperative to use approaches that are friendly to the environment. Despite the demerits of wave energy such as the costs, environmental impacts, and energy potential, it essential to devise mechanisms that can counter such effects. The South Australian Government should therefore implement the approach by increasing investment in the production of electricity through wave energy.


The paper highlights the key benefits of wave energy which include: a low rate of environmental emission, production has been tested and proven and the fact that it is renewable. The paper also decisively acknowledges that the energy source has disadvantages. Nevertheless, there is need for the South Australian Government to be proactive in dealing with climate change. The paper therefore proposes that the government should invest in wave energy in the production of electricity.


Brooke, J 2003, Wave Energy Conversion, Elsevier Ocean Engineering Series.

Cruz, J. 2008, Ocean Wave Energy, Springer, Heidelberg.

Haven, F2011, Green Electricity: 25 Green Technologies that Will Electrify Your Future ABC-CLIO.

Gunnar, M, Barstow, S, Kabuth, A and Pontes 2010, Assessing the Global Wave Energy Potential, International Convenience on Ocean, Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering.

Kadiri, M., et al 2012, “A review of the potential water quality impacts of tidal renewable

energy systems”, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 16, pp. 329-341.

Maehlum, M 2013, Wave Energy Pros and Cons, Energy Informative. Retrieved From <<http://energyinformative.org/wave-energy-pros-and-cons/>

Mustafa, M, Thankom, A, and Habib, I 2016, Handbook of Research on Green Economic Development Initiatives and Strategies, IGI Global.