Green energy wave and tidal energy

Wave and tidal energy, the green energy of the oceans

One of the sources of green energy is at sea, where energy from waves and tides can be converted into electrical energy. Energy from the oceans is an inexhaustible source compared to that from oil or coal.

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What technology is associated

This technology is very similar to what is involved in the conversion of wind energy. In reality, turbines are needed that work with the kinetic energy carried by the waves or through the rise and fall of sea level, depending on the tides.

The sea can rise or fall more or less, the waves can be bigger or smaller, and this movement does not stop.

With this energy source the turbines rotate and produce electrical energy. Apparently a simple question. Anyway, let's leave the difficulties to the engineers.

The way each of these hypotheses is implemented is different, but the basis is the same: ocean kinetic energy, turbine movement, generator that produces electricity.

Because we don't have more energy production from the oceans

The strength of ocean waves and tides has been known since the beginning of humanity. Fishermen know very well what the fishermen are talking about and we remember the intrepid navigators who disappeared into the unknown oceans.

Advantages of green energy from waves and tides

Inexhaustible source of energy.

Either the waves or the tides will not end and are not dependent on man.

Less pollution

Unlike fossil fuels, the transformation of wave and tidal energy does not emit harmful gases into the environment.

Although there are several ways to convert energy, the use of submerged horizontal axis turbines, in which the orientation of the blades or the device adapts to the two directions of the sea current, is one of the most common.

Fig 1 Tidal Energy Technology Turbines with horizontal axes Source Aquaret
Fig. 1 Tidal Energies Technology Turbines with horizontal axes. Source: Aquaret

The kinetic energy of vertical and horizontal oscillations, coming from waves or gravitational energy, coming from the rise and fall of the tidal water column, has been converted into other forms of energy, such as electricity, but also through hydraulic generators and turbines. water or air.

Fig 2 Wave and tidal energy conversion Source Aquaret
Fig. 2 Wave and tidal energy conversion. Source: Aquaret

Ease of planning

It is easier to plan production capacity as wave energy is relatively consistent over time.

On the other hand, meteorological science currently manages to have a very high success rate in its predictions, helping to plan production.

Reduction of dependence on fossil fuels

By reducing the consumption of oil or coal we reduce CO2 emissions to the environment and pollution resulting directly from the production process.

It is a green energy source.

On the other hand, as these fuels are non-renewable, when a given source becomes unviable or runs out, production must be sought and transferred to another area, returning to excavate and contaminate new areas of land or sea.

Fig 3 Tidal Energy Foundations Source Aquaret
Fig. 3 Tidal Energy Foundations. Source: Aquaret

Disadvantages of wave and tidal energy

Few installation sites

Only locations near the sea are viable for this technology. That is why there are countries and regions that are, from the outset, excluded.

This also does not help technological research to progress on a larger scale, because many countries will not be interested in its development.

Impact on the marine ecosystem

Due to the need for infrastructure implemented in the ocean, these technologies can disturb the marine fauna and flora of the area.

Constraints on maritime routes

Maritime routes using the area may be forced to relocate, which, on the other hand, may also have an impact on the region's economy.

Size of waves and storms

Storms are a constraint on the production of this equipment. Also, if there is a very strong calm, the wind does not generate waves and these currents are not enough for a significant production of energy.

However, today meteorology is already able to anticipate very accurately what will happen, helping to plan and adjust production capacity.

Visual pollution

The size of the equipment and its location may not provide a very appealing and above all unnatural view.

Price of ocean energy produced by waves and tides

The development costs of these technologies and the investment in equipment are high.

Also, the maintenance of the entire structure, due to the fact that the conditions to which they are subject lead to a faster degradation of the materials currently used, determine that the maintenance costs are high.

Prices for the energy produced are even more expensive than for other forms of energy production.

The Largest Tidal Power Project

Fig 4 Green ocean energy Source MetGen Simec Atlantis Energy
Fig. 4 Green energy from the oceans. Source: MetGen Simec Atlantis Energy

Atlantic Resources' MeyGen project began in 2018 to install 4 1,5 MW turbines in Scotland. The consortium of investors associated with this project invested 62 million euros.

In April 2021, the consortium proposed to increase the capacity of this project and, with that, achieve economies of scale and reduce energy production costs from tidal generation.

The installation of up to 269 submerged turbines (tidal array) offshore is set to supply 398 MW, with the potential to power 175.000 homes in Scotland.

Fig 5 Submerged Turbines, Ocean Energy. MeyGen Simec Atlantis Energy Source
Fig. 5 Submerged Turbines, Ocean Energy (Tidal Array). Source: MeyGen, Simec Atlantis Energy

The project is implemented in the Pentland Firth, a strait on the north coast of Scotland. It was chosen because it is the area that has the sea with a faster flow of water.

This technological research activity is in a development phase.

A Ocean Energy Europe reported that in 2020, 260 kW of energy capacity from the tidal stream were added to the European seas. In the world 865kW were installed.

The total installed capacity since 2010 is 27,9 MW in Europe and 36,3 MW globally.

The green energy of the oceans

This is an activity that can bring benefits to countries with a coastal zone and that have the capacity to develop off-shore activities, such as aquaculture, underwater mining, maritime observation and surveillance platforms, hydrogen production or even desalination plants.

With the foreseeable lack of water resources, this could be a path for countries like Portugal, in which the generation of electricity that does not require transport can greatly benefit these areas and boost development.

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