“With the industry starting to develop larger projects and continuing to test myriad devices in search of the best designs, does that mean wave power could finally be on its way, just as wind was 25 years ago?”.
Over the past few decades renewable energy has become a popular topic discussed amongst energy experts. The pressure to veer away from fossil fuels is driven from the looming presence of global warming and the detrimental effects it is having on ecosystems all around the world.The obvious and most identifiable renewable sources include: wind and solar power, but has wave power been put on the back burner? Tidal power could contribute substantially to the renewable energy transition, though it remains decades behind other forms of sustainable energy. The United Kingdom noted the possibility that wave power holds and concluded by stating its potential to fulfill over 75% of the country’s energy needs.Small-scale installations have previously been put into operation, but with no commercial-scale wave power operations are on the horizon the future looks dim. The complexity of harnessing tidal power has challenged engineers to create numerous designs including: writhing snake-like attenuators, bobbing buoys, and pressure sensitive devices mounted on the ocean floor. Each device has shown promise, but as Robert Thresher, a research fellow at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory stated, “We may not have even invented the best device yet.” The validity surrounding the use of each device has been questioned due to a multitude of technical issues; the most obvious being it is far more difficult operating in the ocean than on land. Large amounts of money and research are needed for the wave power industry to be a competitive renewable source. Dave Levitan noted, “A recurring theme among wave power experts is that wave energy is where wind energy was three decades ago”. The fundamental roadblock has been identified as the cost. The current presence of small companies fueled by smaller amounts of government funding as the sole proprietors within the industry must shift. The participation of large companies is necessary to push the industry to it’s full potential. With financial backing and steady technical progress wave power can be utilized around the globe to wean the fossil fuel dependency.