Wave energy ‘could be cheaper than solar and wind’

Large-scale wave energy is comparatively more reliable, consistent and potentially cheaper than other forms of energy generation, including wind power.

That’s according to a new report, published in the journal Renewable Energy, which claims that wave energy in high-resource areas such as the Pacific Northwest will have fewer problems with variability than other energy sources.

Moreover, the short-term generation capacity of wave energy can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy, and any potential variability could be further reduced if its implementation was balanced over a larger geographic area, according to the report.

Easy integration

Ted Brekken, an associate professor and renewable energy expert in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, said: “Whenever any new form of energy is added, a challenge is to integrate it into the system along with the other sources.

“By producing wave energy from a range of different sites, possibly with different types of technology, and taking advantage of the comparative consistency of the wave resource itself, it appears that wave energy integration should be easier than that of wind energy.

“The reserve, or backup generation, necessary for wave energy integration should be minimal.”

The report goes on to explore potential costs of implementing wave energy, compared with other forms of renewable energy. The variability of wind and solar often adds to the overall cost of energy supply, it says, but wave energy is not yet cost-competitive as it is still in the infancy of its development.

The UK is seen as a world leader and focal point for the development of wave and tidal stream technologies due to its abundance of marine energy resource.
In 2013, the Government stated that wave and tidal stream energy has the potential to meet up to 20% of the UK’s current electricity demand, representing 30-50GW of installed capacity.

Eyes on Orkney

In related marine energy news this week, the archipelago of Orkney has been the focus of a fact-finding visit of Japanese politicians and business leaders; to find out more about Orkney’s role at the forefront of the global wave and tidal energy sector.

The visit comes as Japan looks to establish its own marine energy test centre sites, with Takaaki Morita from the Government’s marine energy development office claiming “we are an island with a lot of people and there is a strong local demand to make marine energy successful in Japan”.

VIDEO: How wave energy works

Luke Nicholls 

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