Energy Solutions from the Sea

Researchers are exploring a variety of technologies to convert the ocean's immense power into clean, usable electricity. Several of these technologies are developing so rapidly that they're expected to be commercial viable by the middle of this decade.

Wave technologies seek to capture the power of breaking waves. This can be done in a several ways: floating or pitching devices placed on the surface of the water; oscillating water columns that use the rise and fall of water to power an air-driven turbine; or wave surge or "focusing" devices on shore that channel waves into an elevated reservoir, then use standard hydropower technologies to generate electricity from the water's flowing back out.

Tidal energy technologies use dams erected at openings of tidal basins. As the tide rises, water flows in. When the sea level drops, water from the dammed area is released, and hydropower technologies are used to generate electricity.

Ocean thermal conversion technologies seek to convert the vast amount of heat the ocean absorbs every day from the sun into electricity. This heat is equal to that produced by approximately 250 billion barrels of oil every day!

Although the wave energy on CT shores is limited in comparison to that of other coastal states, opportunities exist for wave and tidal technologies nonetheless. The challenge is to make use of the low-action wave regime while also benefiting from the protection provided by Long Island. For example, there are opportunities to take advantage of the strong underwater currents along the shores.


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