Monday, April 28, 2008

The Power of the Ocean

Initially, my research project was simply going to only focus on tidal energy but this quickly changed when I begun research on the power of our oceans. I discovered that there is vast potential in power production from waves as well as through tides.

Tidal energy has fascinated me since the beginning of this course because tidal energy is the only form of energy which comes from the gravitational forces by the moon and the rotation of the Earth. Although, even though some small percent of tidal power comes from solar tidal forcing, tidal energy is different from other energy resources because the energy is not derived from the sun. For instance, fossil fuels (yes, even fossil fuels), wind, biofuels, hydroelectric, geothermal, and many more energy sources come from the sun. Therefore, research on tidal power seemed like an area of study that was unique and, like most renewable technologies, still had vast amount of research left to uncover & unveil.

Wave energy is different form tidal energy in that it refers to the energy of ocean surface waves. The energy of the surface waves is largely determined by wave height, wave speed, water density, and wavelength. Buoys are placed offshore and the ocean surface waves make the buoys travel up and down and in a horizontal direction. This motion results in the buoy travelling in an elliptical motion. The energy of the elliptically travelling buoys is captured and converted into useful mechanical energy work, and thereby converted into electricity, all of which is within the buoy. The buoys transmit their electricity by power lines, which lay on the bottom of the ocean floor, to land.

Thus, my research project analyzes tidal energy and wave energy technologies as well as discusses the feasibility of select technologies based upon current energy needs and requirements as well as projects in the future. Conclusions have not yet been made, as I haven’t finished the paper yet, but I will post my findings after Thursday. As of now, I have found many interesting technologies concerning wave energy that are easy to implement from both economic and policy oriented standpoints.

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