Out With the Old, In With the New?
Solar energy is a great way to generate usable energy from a source that is readily available to most places. Though solar energy is great it is not always the best option for certain places. Therefore, many other forms of renewable energy are being researched. One of the most profound sources of energy currently is wave energy.
Waves are created by a variety of environmental forces. The most common force that people know is the force of wind, which creates waves as it hits the surface of the water. Gravitational pull, the force generated by the interactions between the sun, earth, and moon, is also responsible for the creation of waves. These waves, though created by energy that moves through water, also generate energy.
Wave energy can be captured by a system that utilizes attenuators, a device that works opposite to the way that an amplifier works. The wave energy is captured by attenuators that sit perpendicular to the direction of the moving waves. As the waves continue to move along the body of the attenuator, the attenuator continues to move as well. The movement of the attenuator transfers to a hydraulic pump which then converts the wave energy into usable energy.
Absorber systems utilize buoys to capture wave energy from the surface of the water. The energy is transferred through a series of cables and underwater devices to an undersea substation. A linear or rotary generator is then used to convert the energy into a usable form of electric energy.
Oscillation water columns (OWC) use a combination of water, air, and gravity to create pressure within the column system. Air is transferred as the system is continually pressurized and depressurized. The transferred air is then pulled into an air turbine which subsequently converts the energy into usable energy.
There are two types of devices that can be used to convert wave energy: overtopping devices and inverted-pendulum devices. Overtopping devices utilize turbine systems to drain water and convert the mechanical energy into electrical energy. Inverted-pendulum devices, as suggested by their name, use an upside-down pendulum device to sway with waves. A series of hydraulic pumps and electric generators then convert the energy transferred by the inverted-pendulum device.