The world’s largest untapped source of energy can be harnessed via wave energy converters turning the ocean’s kinetic energy into electricity.
The UK, as an island nation, has a tremendous and untapped wave energy resource. Research has found that the UK has over 20GW of wave energy potential which could provide over 20% of its current electricity demand.
Waves on large oceans are fetched over long distances, over multiple days from various weather systems, giving it a very consistent power flow, making it an excellent complement to stabilise the clean energy mix, and more predictable than other renewable sources.
Wave energy is the world’s largest untapped source of energy with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimating that the potential annual global production at 29,500 TWh, which could provide clean electricity for over 500 million homes.
Waves are caused by the transfer of wind’s kinetic energy to the upper surface of the ocean. This energy can be extracted by wave energy converters (WECs), via three primary means:
A point absorber is a floating buoy that absorbs energy through the movement of the waves at the water’s surface.
An oscillating wave surge converter is mounted on the seabed in shallower water, and harnesses wave energy with an oscillating flap.
An oscillating water column is a partially submerged, hollow structure which is open to the sea water below the surface and connects to an air turbine above through a chamber. As the waves rise and fall, the air in the chamber is pushed back and forth through the air turbine, generating power.
WECs can provide utility-scale power production and support decarbonisation in offshore energy industries, remote islands, and fish farms, displacing the use of diesel generation.
A secure and cost-effective transition to net zero requires a diverse mix of energy generation, whilst optimising existing infrastructure. This requires innovative approaches to deployment.
Wave has a complementary generation portfolio with offshore wind. Co-locating these technologies together will reduces costs and improves the efficient use of marine space, via the enabling of shared infrastructure, shared use of substations and marine vessels. This will even out the generation profile of key sites and reduce the impact of wind’s intermittency on the grid.
Wave technologies can co-locate with wind by WECs being deployed between wind turbines, or even cohabit floating wind platforms.