The Drive for Clean Energy
Surrounded by the powerful Atlantic, the UK is currently in the enviable position of leading all the world’s nations in the pursuit of maritime energy technologies. The UK’s present ability to seize potential energy trapped in undulating ocean surfaces is causing a ripple effect that is making waves felt in energy research around the world.
What is Wave Power?
This energy is created naturally by winds travelling across oceans, ruffling the water’s surface and creating peaks. Each wave retains energy transferred to it from the wind itself. Faster winds result in larger waves, and each wave’s potential is relationally proportional to the wave’s size; e.g., one wave twice as high as another will contain not twice, but four times the energy as the first wave.
Oversized turbines capture the energy of air rushing across wind farms; wave converters capture the energy potential within ocean surfaces.
The implications of harnessing this power are staggering. The energy export opportunities that await the UK would be not only a boon for the UK, but a prayer answered for nations worldwide. Yet, the concept for harnessing this is not a new one; indeed, the idea of capturing power from waves dates all the way back to the late 1800s. But the technology necessary to effectively appropriate this energy hadn’t been developed until recently.
Millions of pounds have been invested by nations and individual companies alike in the research and development of wave energy technology, and also in the launching of enterprises supporting wave energy.
In the interest of innovation, design competitions have been conducted and grants have been awarded to promising individuals or organizations. Such steps have been taken in the hopes that emerging developers would successfully respond to the call for clean, renewable energy with a resounding, “Yes! Here’s the energy alternative the world’s been waiting for!”
Up to this point, most financing for such ventures had been obtained primarily through government grants, with ancillary funding sourced via angel investors and utility companies with an eye toward the future. Well-meaning investors, perhaps, but lacking the technological skill and knowledge to foment the level of innovation for which the wave power industry is presently groomed.
Not only does wave power promise a great potential for producing energy, the industry is currently poised to deliver this power at a dramatic savings when compared with traditional resources.
The costs for developing this technology are now expected to drop drastically, thanks to corporate investors who recognize the viability and marketability of maritime energy technologies. Unlike government agencies, these firms are more technologically savvy and attuned to streamlining efforts to produce more focused results with less waste of time or financial resources. Sizable and strategically orchestrated investments from these wealthy sources dwarf the comparative stipends previously obtained through other means.
The UK stands on the brink of leading the charge for producing clean, affordable, renewable wave energy that could effectively make a large impact on satiating the growing hunger for energy around the world.