Ocean waves represent our planet's last untapped natural
renewable energy resource. Over 70 per cent of the earth's
surface is covered with water. The energy contained within
waves has the potential to produce up to 80,000TWh of electricity
per year - sufficient to meet our global energy demand five times
over. The potential to capture energy from the sea offers a vast
and endless source of clean sustainable electricity.
Predictable by nature
Ocean waves are generated by wind passing over the surface of
the sea - a process which often begins many hundreds or thousands
of miles from shore. Because waves originate a long way from
shore, computer models of wave propagation allow us to accurately
forecast incoming waves up to five days in advance.
In comparison with wind energy, it's easier to accurately
predict how much energy can be generated by waves, and when. In
addition, the peaks and troughs of wind and wave energy do not
always coincide. This means there are times when there is
abundant wave energy and little wind. This diversity helps even out
the fluctuating nature of some renewable energy sources. When
combined with other renewable energy, such as hydro power, it helps
provide a more predictable and steady renewable energy mix.
A diverse renewable energy portfolio means a more stable energy
system, reduced variability and lower cost. In addition, a strong
renewable energy mix means we become less reliant on traditional
power sources such as oil and gas. This gives us greater
Minimal environmental impact
Wave energy is, by its nature, a clean energy resource.
Aside from the energy expended in manufacture and installation of
wave energy devices, it produces no carbon emissions. Our
industry is still very new but studies undertaken to date show the
process of capturing wave energy has minimal environmental impact.
Our Oyster device, for example, is a simple, slow-moving buoyant
flap. This flap moves backwards and forwards in the waves and
pumps water ashore. There is no electricity production or fast
moving equipment at sea. And as Oyster uses freshwater as its
hydraulic fluid it means there are no hydrocarbons in its
system. The device sits largely underwater so there is
minimal visual impact.
There is an obvious link between wave energy and desalination -
the process of removing salt from water to produce
freshwater. There are a number of island groups, such as the
Canary Islands, which receive little rain or have limited means to
capture and store rainfall. Instead seawater must be desalinated by
a technique known as reverse osmosis. Energy fuelled by diesel
generators is used to pump high pressure saltwater over special
membranes to produce freshwater.
Our Oyster device offers a cleaner, more cost-effective
solution. Oyster could be configured to produce high pressure
saltwater direct to a desalination plant, without the need for
fossil fuels whatsoever.