Here’s the need-to-know stuff about the energy source, waves!
When wind blows over areas of water it creates waves. Some of the energy from the wind is transferred to the waves, which then carry this energy as they move through the water.
Where can you find wave energy?
Wave energy can be harnessed anywhere in the world where there is enough wind to produce waves for most of the time. In the UK the best places for harnessing wave energy are North-West Scotland, Wales and South-West England. However there is only one commercial wave energy plant in the world, in Portugal, and this only generates very small amounts of electricity. But several are planned for the UK.
How is it made into electricity?
Wave energy can be harnessed out at sea or by the shoreline. For example, waves reaching the shore can be used like a piston to push air up and down a large pipe. The force of the air being pushed is used to turn a turbine. This turbine is attached to a generator that creates the electricity. There are many other ways to make electricity from waves – they all convert the energy in the waves to electrical energy.
What are the advantages of using wave power?
- It is a renewable source of energy, which means that it will not run out.
- As an island we have a lot of suitable coastline and therefore could harness a lot of wave energy.
- The energy source is free.
- No fuel is needed and no waste or emissions are produced.
What are the disadvantages of using wave power?
- Wave power is still under development – it could be 10 years before it is ready to be used on a large scale.
- Wave power is more expensive than other forms of electricity production.
- Wave power devices need to be able to withstand very rough weather – it could cost a lot of money to repair damage caused by storms.
- Even in the most suitable spots, wave energy can be unreliable because it depends on the wind.