A recurring theme among wave power experts is that wave energy is where wind energy was three decades ago. At that time, engineers had not settled on the optimal design for wind turbines, but decades of ensuing research have resulted in highly sophisticated turbine designs. With wave power, some research occurred after the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, but since then government and commercial research and development into wave power has paled compared to wind and solar energy.
Why wave energy isn't powering our planet
— By Tyler Falk on April 28, 2014, 2:09 PM PST
Anyone else notice that the article states that the reason for cancellation for the Ocean Power Technologies project was higher than expected costs, yet at the bottom of the article there is a link to the "energy transition tipping point" article?
It is a shame that this is so hard, since, depending on the type, it could probably be a consistent source of power, unlike solar or wind.
Another point, so many of the diverse methods I have seen to capture power for the ocean rely on reciprocating machines, for example, the buoys going up and down, attached to some spool. These kind of machines have the most wear and need to most upkeep, even in the best of environments. It is like an internal combustion engine compared to a turbine.
Compared with the real problems caused by using CO2 and other substances, complexities of sea locations are actually very minor. Why do we insist at looking the wrong way through telescopes with these issues? No-one notice forest fires, flooding, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes recently?
Among the problems not listed are environmental impacts.
Any wave generation system will become a home for a great many species simply because it provides an interface between solid and liquid...and if it is exposed a triple interface of air/water/solid. Such interfaces are where life congregates.
Good for the life that lives there, but not so good for the equipment, and perhaps upsetting species populations.
Build enough of them and you create a large are of sea under which there is far less light, which will reduce the plant populations locally.
Surface floating systems block evaporation and vastly reduce the amount of solar energy absorbed by the sea too.
The optimum place to generate power on the scale our society wants and needs is in orbit. Where the initial inefficiencies of production can be radiated into space rather than heating the planet, where there is no corrosive oxygen or water and generating equipment is protected from the majority of terrorist attacks, and where any dangerous failures won't affect people directly. With the further advantage that they can generate power nearly 100% of the time with full efficiency.
Receiving antenna farms for reception of such power can be used for other purposes, as the structures involved block negligible amounts of light and nearly 100% of the microwave energy (which is very low intensity.) While these are exposed to weather, they are much cheaper to maintain and replace than generation ewuipment.
Roof based systems & such are nice, but only provide certain amounts of power while exacerbating heat island effects of populated areas. (Thy'll support a lot of activities, but not industrial scale power use.)
The companies with the capital to make it feasible to harvest wave energy are far too risk adverse to invest the vast amounts required to make it feasible - At least until governments get really serious about not merely cracking down, but eliminating green house gas emissions.
As JOHNMCBREW mentioned, these contraptions will require a far greater level of maintenance than utility companies are used to. . .
Anyone who has owned or maintained a boat or any kind of structure in or around salt water can tell you instantly what the problem is: Accelerated entropy.
The ocean is the ultimate hostile environment to any structure, be it man-made or nature. Nothing in or around salt water lasts very long. Coastlines themselves are the most temporary geological features on the planet. The ocean environment has practically everything to punish any man-made instrument beyond limits: Heat. Cold. Wind. Constant motion in large degrees at on all axis'. Corrosion. Radiation (UV exposure). And last but not least, biological's that will permanently attach themselves to any surface, either jamming any exposed mechanical component, or rendering the surface hopelessly inefficient due to destroying laminar flow. (And the EPA has pretty much outlawed all of the effective coatings as too effective)
So even if you were to conceive and build a tidal mechanism large enough to produce a meaningful amount of power, it either wouldn't last very long, or the constant maintenance and upkeep would make it highly uneconomical.
Like with wind & solar, it's the cost of capturing the "free" energy that kills the dream. It's true that there is more than enough energy in the ocean to mostly replace fossil fuels. But the challenges are even greater than those for wind and solar.
@Clive Durdle I was out with C. Little the other day and we both noticed a piece of the sky fall.
@Clive Durdle Exactly what's new about "forest fires, flooding, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes"? All of these phenomenon precede human existence.
In fact, it could even be argued that these phenomenon are made more tame by "climate change". In fact, more people die of winter-related events every year than they do of fires, floods, typhoons, hurricanes and tornadoes.
You need to re-focus your telescope away from the media hype.