The world's ocean may eventually provide us with energy to power our homes and businesses. Right now, there are very few ocean energy power plants and most are fairly small. But how can we get energy from the ocean?
There are three basic ways to tap the ocean for its energy. We can use the ocean's waves, we can use the ocean's high and low tides, or we can use temperature differences in the water. Let's take a look at each.
Kinetic energy (movement) exists in the moving waves of the ocean. That energy can be used to power a turbine. In this simple example, to the right, the wave rises into a chamber. The rising water forces the air out of the chamber. The moving air spins a turbine which can turn a generator.
When the wave goes down, air flows through the turbine and back into the chamber through doors that are normally closed.
This is only one type of wave-energy system. Others actually use the up and down motion of the wave to power a piston that moves up and down inside a cylinder. That piston can also turn a generator.
Most wave-energy systems are very small. But, they can be used to power a warning buoy or a small light house.
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
Next chapter is about Solar Energy.