Winds blow over ocean water. The sea stirs, creating powerful waves. Those waves contain energy.
According to the United States Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the amount of energy in a single ocean wave could power one electric car for hundreds of miles. So scientists are zeroing in on the usefulness of ocean waves.
Water covers 70% of the Earth’s surface. Waves crash consistently to shore, against sandbars and reefs, all over the world. Those moving waters carry kinetic energy, or energy in motion. How can that energy be captured and harnessed? Oscilla Power, Inc., (OPI) of Seattle, Washington, is developing a wave-powered, electricity-producing, floating science station.
There are more than 8,000 marine platforms floating in oceans around the world. These platforms serve as bases for oil and gas drilling, underwater exploration, and scientific research. Solar panels or batteries power many of these floating stations. Both of those energy sources require regular maintenance. Scientists at OPI don’t want to have to make service calls to their floating stations. That’s another benefit to powering up the platforms with energy from ocean waves.
The deepest ocean water produces the strongest waves. That’s where OPI researchers will plop their marine platform called Triton. The platform has tools on board that can take energy from the waves that crash into it. Triton’s surface float is a bright yellow buoy that bobs on the ocean surface. Beneath it hangs a heavy ring called a reaction ring, or heave plate. Three tight rods called tendons connect the surface float to the reaction ring. As the buoy floats, the ocean’s movement stretches and pulls the tendons. They wiggle with energy from waves. At the same time, iron-aluminum coils on each rod capture that wave energy and turn it into electricity. That electricity flows through cables connecting the platform to shore.
The United States government thinks that OPI is onto something with wave research. The United States Department of Energy gave OPI a financial grant. The government funds ideas it wants to see further developed with this gift of money. Collecting energy from ocean waves to convert into electricity could in time become a completely sustainable process.
Why? God created all things—seen and unseen—including all the energy in the universe. The latest technology can help us harness wave power as a zero-waste, no-emissions, renewable energy source.