Wave Energy is a type of renewable energy that can be obtained by using the motion of waves. Waves are created when the wind blows across the ocean’s surface. The amount of energy transferred and the magnitude of the subsequent waves are governed by the wind speed, the duration for which the wind blows, and the distance the wind blows over (the ‘fetch’).
According to estimates, the world’s total wave resource could contain up to 2 terawatts (TW) of energy, which is equal to all the power used worldwide. Over 40% of the world’s energy needs, or the output of over 800 nuclear power plants, may be met by wave energy if it is adequately exploited. You will learn about Wave Energy in this article, which will aid you while you study the Environment Syllabus for the UPSC Civil Service exam.
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What is Wave Energy?
Wave Energy is the term for the transfer and collection of energy by ocean surface waves (or wave power). After being captured, the energy is used for a variety of purposes, such as the production of electricity, desalination of water, and water pumping. The world’s largest ocean energy resource is thought to be wave energy, a form of renewable energy. When the wind blows across the water’s surface, it adds energy to the waves. They are highly powerful sources of energy. The energy output is calculated using wave height, wave speed, wavelength, and water density. The ability of waves to produce electricity increases with their strength. There aren’t many wave-generating plants in existence because they’re challenging to use.
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Wave Energy Presence
Wave energy is most abundant in Asia and Australia. It is also found in South and North America. Western and Northern Europe have significant amounts of energy despite their tiny size. Central America, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic Archipelagos suffer poorly due to their mid-latitude location.
Wave energy, tidal energy, ocean current energy, salinity gradient energy, and ocean thermal gradient energy are just a few of the renewable energy sources that are created by the motion of the ocean’s water and can all be used to produce electricity.
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How is Wave Energy Converted into Electricity?
Wave energy hitting the coast is converted into electricity by a wave energy converter (WEC), which is essentially a power plant. The operating concept of this power plant is both straightforward and novel. Strong sea waves can flow into and out of the sealed compartment through a hole in the bottom. The air is forced forward and back through turbines attached to an upper aperture in the chamber as the water level in the chamber rises and falls in synchronisation with the wave. Both compressed and uncompressed air can be used to power the turbines. The turbine is propelled in the same direction by the wind that passes through it back and forth. The propelling turbine rotates a shaft that is connected to a generator.
Power is produced by the generator and then distributed to electrical grids, demand centres, and distribution lines that link individual residences and commercial establishments. The benefit of this wave energy converter is that it can generate airflow from even the smallest wave motions, which will keep the turbine spinning and produce energy.
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India’s Potential for Wave Energy
The 7517-kilometre coastline of India is dotted with estuaries and gulfs, giving it the perfect location for the growth of marine energy projects. The potential for wave energy in India is thought to be between 40 and 60 GW. In contrast to other renewable energy sources, ocean energy technologies like wave and tidal are still in the early stages of development in India. IIT Madras and Credit Rating Information Services of India Ltd. (CRISIL) conducted a study that found the western coast had a higher potential for wind than the eastern coast.
On India’s west coast, they have identified potential wave power development areas in Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Kerala. Kanyakumari, close to the southern tip of the Indian peninsula, has the maximum power as a result of refraction and strong winds. With currently existing technologies, the amount of power that can be produced from wave energy is far less than the theoretically expected potential. The capacity utilisation factor for wave energy in India is between 15% and 20%.
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Wave Energy Advantages
1. Highly Predictable
The wave arrival pattern is quite predictable. More energy is stored in them than in other renewable energy sources like wind and sun, and they arrive at all hours of the day and night.
2. Renewable Energy
It is a renewable resource, hence its availability is unrestricted. It can survive without assistance from people. Till the end of time, humans will still use it for their benefit. Wave energy is therefore a dependable and effective energy source.
3. Environmentally Friendly
Since wave energy doesn’t release any damaging greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, it is a completely clean energy source.
4. Employment Generation
Because wave power may be able to reach areas that are not served by conventional electricity, it has the potential to offer both remote and metropolitan residents a number of environmentally friendly employment options.
5. Beneficial for Remote Areas
Wave energy can be captured and transferred to faraway areas, which can lead to the exponential growth of new industries and businesses. These rural areas will see great economic growth in the future.
Creating a strong wave energy infrastructure can greatly lessen a nation’s dependency on fossil fuels and increase the security of its energy supply. The fact that wave energy is affordable, dependable, and effective makes it a definite method of closing this volatility gap.
Offshore wave energy facilities can be constructed, eliminating any potential concerns that come with onshore plants, such as soil pollution. The land also retains its natural state, unlike the extraction of fossil fuels, which requires considerable excavation and badly damages the environment.
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Wave Energy Disadvantages
The disadvantages associated with wave energy are as follows:
1. High Initial Capital Expenses
A large financial investment is necessary to build wave energy installations. A number of issues, such as energy plant maintenance, grid connection, wave resources, and the technology’s useful life, are raising the cost of wave energy. The exact cost of wave energy is also difficult to ascertain because it is still in the early stages of development.
2. Deficiency of the Equipment
The size of the waves in the seas is very unpredictable. It can occasionally strike hard, severely damaging the turbines that generate wave energy. Damage to this equipment may be expensive to fix. Additionally, it would cause a halt in the supply of electricity.
3. Impact on Aquatic Ecosystem
From an ecological perspective, shallow oceans are perfect locations for resting and breeding for the majority of marine organisms. As a result, the marine ecosystem is significantly impacted by the construction and operation of the wave-generating plant. Accidental hydraulic fluid leaks or spills from the facilities could contaminate the water, killing marine life.
4. Locational Problems
The geographic location of wave energy is a drawback. Wave energy will be advantageous to people and communities that are close to oceans and seas. Wave energy cannot be used to power the entire population because it can only be produced in oceans and seas. This implies that the advantages of wave energy will not be available to towns, cities, and nations that are not close to such bodies of water.
5. Noise Pollution
The loudness produced by the plant generators may be too much for some locals to endure, despite the fact that wave energy is a clean source of electricity. Additionally, the plants take away from the ocean’s natural beauty. However, the noise made by the waves typically counterbalances the noise made by the generators.
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Wave Energy UPSC
The fact that most wave energy systems are small and insufficient to power large buildings or structures is one of the biggest obstacles to wave energy. Another problem with wave energy is that the amount of energy that may be produced depends on the magnitude of the waves at any given time, just like with solar or wind energy. Wave height, wave speed, wavelength, and wave density are some of the unpredictable factors that have an impact on wave energy. As technology develops, experts are exploring novel ways to generate more electricity from ocean waves.
However, when weighing the advantages and disadvantages of wave energy, the advantages clearly exceed the disadvantages, particularly in this day and age when everyone is focusing on renewable energy sources.
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