Ocean Turbines

Covering more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean is the world’s largest untapped, renewable energy resource. It produces both mechanical energy from its tides and waves and thermal energy from the sun’s heat. As new technologies are developed, ocean resources will be able to meet many of the world’s energy needs. Experts estimate that 0.2% of the ocean’s untapped energy could power the entire world.

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The value proposition for ocean power is twofold. First, ocean power technologies have been practiced for hundreds of years. They are based on well-understood principles derived from hydrodynamic physics and mechanical and electrical engineering. As such, the capital and energy cost paths for ocean power technologies are relatively predictable. Second, ocean energy is an abundant, predictable and renewable resource. Tides and marine currents are 832 times denser than the air flowing over wind turbines and are predictable up to the minute at least 100 years in advance. Ocean energies are guaranteed to deliver high output indefinitely.

Of all the renewable energy technologies, tidal power is the most predictable, reliable and dispatchable (the ability of a given power source to increase and/or decrease output quickly on demand). Twice a day, the gravitational pull of the moon causes water to flow in from the ocean on strong flood tides and flow out again on equally powerful ebb tides. Tides occur reliably, independent of weather and climate change and they follow predictable lunar orbits known many years in advance.

There are two ways of creating tidal power: tidal dams and ocean currents. Dams are based on using an “at a bay” or estuary with a large tidal range. Power is generated primarily at ebb tides as the barrage creates a significant head of water, much like a hydroelectric dam. Tidal turbines take advantage of fast-flowing ocean currents to create energy. The most prolific tidal turbines are horizontal axis turbines that in many ways are analogous to wind turbines. The main difference is size. Tidal turbines generating 1 MW of power can be up to one-third the size of a wind turbine with a similar generating capacity.

Waves caused by wind blowing over the surface of the ocean carry tremendous energy. The total power of waves breaking around the world’s coastlines is estimated at 2-3 million megawatts. Ocean wave energy is captured directly from surface waves or from pressure fluctuations below the surface. The prevailing technology is point absorbers, which resemble offshore buoys that measure environmental data except they are larger. Their popularity is due to their ability to absorb energy from oncoming waves in all directions. Wave action could power as much as 10 percent of the world’s electrical demand someday.

Ocean thermal energy is created when the sun’s heat warms the surface water, while the deep ocean water remains cold. In tropical regions, the surface water can be more than 40 degrees warmer than the deep water. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is a method for generating electricity by taking advantage of this vast temperature difference.

There are three types of electricity conversion systems: closed-cycle, open-cycle, and hybrid. Closed-cycle systems use the ocean’s warm surface water to vaporize a working fluid, which has a low-boiling point, such as ammonia. The vapor expands and turns a turbine. The turbine then activates a generator to produce electricity. Open-cycle systems actually boil the seawater by operating at low pressures. This produces steam that passes through a turbine/generator. Hybrid systems combine both closed-cycle and open-cycle systems. OTEC has been used successfully in Hawaii since 1974.

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The ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface. Mankind has explored a mere 5% of this vast natural resource. It is the story of overwhelming opportunities and exploration yet to be told. It is the same when it comes to turning to the ocean for our energy needs. Untapped potential is being discovered via exciting new technologies…and some old ones. Thus far the tale has uncovered three front running scientific advances:

  • Wave powered generation is a newer technology, dealing with capturing the energy potential in the waves caused by blowing winds over the ocean’s surface. The total power of waves breaking around the world’s coastlines is estimated at 2-3 million megawatts. The rise and fall of the ocean, powers pistons and turbines contained in floating units anchored to the sea floor.
  • Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) is a process that was originally developed in the 1880’s, generating electricity from the temperature differences in ocean waters.
  • Tidal power has been in the media often. Similar to wind turbines, but under the sea. Water is 832 times denser than air. If air and wind can be used for power generation just imagine what could be ahead for the future of tidal power plants.

Generating electricity with these technologies represents the leading edge of available science research and development. The ideas may be new to the mainstream, but when they begin powering the world, the hard work that has been put into their development will reveal the real treasure. That time may be coming a lot sooner than people realize.

Governments is now beginning to heavily supplement the research that private industry has been doing for decades in an effort to perfect this technology and make ocean turbine power a reality as a steady source of energy for the general public. With the importance that governments across the globe have put on this project, it is now a priority in many energy circles as they recognize that they may soon be forced to have a certain percentage of their energy supplies coming directly from renewable sources.

The progress that has been made in the last few years alone dwarfs that of the last 20 years. The increase in funding and ecological awareness is forcing energy companies everywhere to not only develop better ways to harness the energy sources that we are already using, but to develop new sources as well, such as ocean turbines, so that we may lighten and possibly reverse some of the damage that has been done over the last few centuries to our ecological system. There is no doubting the power that the ocean holds and breakthroughs as to how to effectively use that power are finally coming to light.

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When the sun is blocked by clouds and the wind is not blowing, and we want a clean and completely consistent source of power, where can it be found? The answer covers about 70% of the world, the ocean. Even while numerous different sources of clean and efficient energy extraction are being developed, it will always be the ocean that has the highest and most reliable potential to generate clean electricity. Experts estimate that 0.2% of the ocean’s untapped energy could power the entire world.

The value proposition for ocean power is twofold. First, ocean power technologies have been practiced for hundreds of years. Records going back 800 years show cultures using tidal power to turn grist mills. With new technology, we can now use tidal power to spin turbines that will ceaselessly generate electricity. Second, tidal power is based on well-understood principles derived from hydrodynamic physics and mechanical and electrical engineering. Tides can be predicted at least one hundred years in advance.

At a given site, we can know exactly how much energy may be generated on a given day. This gives this form of energy a huge leg up on every other source. Imagine having a map that told you where every oil and natural gas pocket was located in the world. What if you had the schedule for the rest of time that would tell you when it was going to be sunny and when it was going to be cloudy? What if you knew where the wind was going to be on any given day and also knew how fast it was going to blow?

It is for these very reasons that distinct parts of different countries are looking into ocean turbines as their next source of energy. In the United States, Florida is a perfect example of this. They are pouring millions of dollars into ocean turbine technology so that they can finally produce their own electricity without relying on surrounding areas. They are doing this for the same reasons that states like Arizona are developing wind turbine technology. It is a clean natural resource that they have in abundance that will help them to become independent of the sources of energy that they are using now and cannot produce themselves.

As you have seen stated with the other sources of energy, the world is continuing to develop and as it does, the need for energy sources is only going to increase. Countries that were considered Third World Countries half a century ago are putting up high rises, hotels and resorts that are like nothing we have ever seen. Because of this, existing energy sources will continue to be needed and untapped sources, such as ocean turbines, are going to see incredible growth because of the ease and minimal costs with which they can be established.

Not only do you have these newly developed areas looking for a source of clean energy, but the movement is abundant throughout the world. You can look at the United States again as the perfect example. This is far from a Third World Country, but much of the area that is available for development for both housing and industry is still untapped. When the economy turns and investors start to throw their money back into the game, expansion will rival that of 20-30 years ago. Because of the interest in protecting the environment, it is not out of the question that the government will demand that newly built homes, factories and corporate structures are 100% eco-friendly. Imagine the growth of energy sources such as ocean turbines when this happens.

The capital and energy costs for ocean power technologies are relatively predictable and offer expansive returns. Projects based upon tidal power, wave generated energy and OTEC are underway worldwide, from Canada to Ireland to South Korea and the list is growing every day. The world recognizes that the ocean is an energy source that will be very predominant in the very near future and that of course means that those that are invested now will see a payoff on their principal that may be unprecedented in the investment world.

[tab:Environment]

The ocean is the world’s largest untapped, renewable energy resource. It produces both mechanical energy from its tides and waves and thermal energy from the sun’s heat. Of all the renewable energy technologies, tidal power is the most predictable, reliable and dispatchable (the ability of a given power source to increase and/or decrease output quickly on demand). Because ocean turbine energy harnesses the forces of nature, it has minimal negative impact on the environment.

Ocean generated energy is emission-free because it’s powered by the gravitational effects of the moon and sun. The electricity produced comes from the kinetic energy of the tides that can be predicted up to the minute, at least a century in advance. Ocean turbine technology meets increasing demand for renewable energy sources, which all together have seen a steady 30% annual increase in the amount of electricity being generated.

Another benefit is that the tidal power solutions used to generate energy may also serve as a viable transportation and infrastructure solution, supporting roadways, railways, pipelines, wind turbines and cabling. This dual infrastructural solution stimulates strategic partnerships in the transportation marketplace where the demand for more streamlined transportation and infrastructure solutions is increasingly relevant.

It’s also important to note that the costs of tidal stream turbines and tidal bridges (installation and maintenance) are much lower and more transparent than that of other, more conventional energy sources such as coal and nuclear. You are also looking at a source of energy that will not harm the environment in the manner in which both of these sources have done for years. There is no footprint being left and there is no damage to surrounding areas, nature or the people that are harvesting this source of energy.

As we speak, turbine energy is not only being developed, but monitored to ensure that the placement of the turbines will have no effect on the areas that they are placed. As data is revealed, adjustments will be made and you can be assured that when this source of energy is fully operational, every check and balance will have been made to ensure that our environment will not be harmed one bit by this natural resource.

Fortunately, new energy policies are being put in place to support this renewable and economical source of energy. Many nations such as Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom have created or are in the process of creating policies to accommodate tidal energy developments and practices. What this means for investors is that the benefits as well as the environmentally friendly approach to energy brought about by the ocean energy technology is being recognized for the value it provides, both ecologically and economically.

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www.WorldEnergyResearch.com

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