Ocean energy is another form of harnessing the temperature and movement of water to create energy. Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface, making them the world’s largest solar collectors. The ocean stores thermal (heat) energy, which can be used to generate electricity using special turbine generators.
The energy of the ocean’s waves and tides can also be used to generate electricity with dams that force ocean water through turbines. This is called tidal energy, or wave energy. The world’s first wave power station is on the Scottish island of Islay. It generates enough electricity for about 400 homes. Wave energy uses buoys or other mechanisms embedded with turbines to create electricity as they shift with the movement of waves.
Scientists and engineers around the world are working on systems to use the ocean’s energy on a large scale.
- Ocean tides and waves produce clean energy and no CO2 emissions.
- Ocean tides and waves are constant and predictable.
- The equipment for harnessing ocean energy is expensive to build and maintain.
- Underwater turbines could be dangerous to ocean creatures.
- Ocean tides and waves cannot yet meet significant electricity needs.