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Wave Power, the Energy of Wind Waves. What Is It and How Does It Work?

Wave energy takes advantage of the movement of ocean waves to generate electrical energy. 

Wave power, the energy of wind waves. What is it and how does it work?

The energy carried by waves on the surface of the water can be used to do useful jobs: generating electricity, desalinating water, and pumping water into tanks. Wave energy is a renewable energy source.

This type of energy is considered a clean energy but it carries a certain environmental impact since it modifies the coastal landscape and alters the ecosystem of the seabed.

The excitation power is estimated in kW per linear meter, that is, in kW / m. Compared to wind and solar energy, wave energy has a much higher power density.

The average electrical energy production of the seas and oceans, as a rule, exceeds 15 kW / m, with a wave height of 2 m, the power reaches 80 kW / m. That is, by developing the surface of the oceans, there can be no shortage of energy. Of course, only a part of the excitation power can be transformed into mechanical and electrical energy, but for water the conversion coefficient is 85% higher than for air.

Generating electricity from wave energy is not a common practice. Currently, only experimental research is being carried out in this area.

What Is the Difference Between Tidal Energy and Wave Energy?

Wave energy is different from tidal energy.

Tidal energy - or tidal energy - harnesses the movement of the tides by converting the potential energy of water at high tide to generate electricity

On the other hand, wave energy - or wave energy - harnesses the energy of wave motion on the ocean surface.

The amount of energy that can be obtained with ocean waves is much greater than that obtained with tidal energy. The dispersion of the tides caused by the influence of the Moon's gravity is of the order of 2.5 TW.

Countries with long coastlines and constant strong winds, such as the UK and Ireland, can generate up to 5% of their electricity demand from waves.

How Does Wave Energy Work?

The different technologies to take advantage of wave energy are:

  • Oscillating water column devices. This system is based on taking advantage of the pressure differences in the flow of mara water to compress air. When the compressed air is released, it drives a wind turbine that is the one that generates the electricity.

  • Articulated mobile devices. In these systems, the water drives a hydraulic system coupled to an electric generator. With the movement of the waves, this system pumps oil at high pressure to a hydraulic motor.

  • Oscillating devices. These work with a hydraulic turbine and a linear electric generator.

  • Wave collectors. The collectors are fixed to the bottom of the sea. They have a water tank located at a surface higher than the water level. This reservoir is filled by the action of the waves and, when they return to the sea, they pass through hydraulic turbines connected to an electric generator.

  • Floating structure: Wave Dragon. The principle of operation of this system is similar to that of wave collectors.

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Published: October 14, 2021
Last review: October 14, 2021