Wave Power 101: A Clean Energy Primer

When it comes to renewable energy, wind and solar tend to make the headlines–but another form of green power is quietly gaining momentum on coastlines around the world: wave power.

wave power

image via Wikipedia

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wave power encompasses various forms of technology designed to extract energy from waves on the surface of the ocean (or from pressure fluctuations below the surface) and convert it into electricity. Experts believe there is enough energy in the world’s waves to provide up to 2 trillion watts of electricity, but wave power isn’t feasible to extract in most places. The optimal areas for wave power generators include the western coasts of Scotland, northern Canada, southern Africa, Australia, and the northeastern and northwestern coasts of the United States.

Wave Power

image via Outer Continental Shelf Alternative Energy

The Pacific Northwest is considered especially rich in potential wave power, and Oregon in particular. Jason Busch, Executive Director of the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, told us, “Many places around the world have good wave energy resources, but not all places have the other essential features necessary to attract an industry.”

He believes that the Oregon has all the key factors, including an underutilized electrical grid infrastructure ready to take on more power, rising power demands from a growing population along the coast, and manufacturing capacity, as well as the infrastructure and port capabilities necessary to handle the transportation of heavy wave power equipment.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.