Power from the Ocean?

Apparently all of those big waves you play in at the beach are home to energy that could be trapped just like hydro power generated from rivers and streams. Imagine gaining energy from the ocean without the risk of dumping oil in it!

According to THIS (http://environment.about.com/od/offbeatenergysources/a/ocean_power.htm) post, the sea can be harnessed for energy in three basic ways: using wave power, using tidal power, and using ocean water temperature variations in a process called “ocean thermal energy conversion”.

Ocean Wave Power
In harnessing wave power, the back-and-forth or up-and-down movement of waves can be captured, for example, to force air in and out of a chamber to drive a piston or spin a turbine that can power a generator. Some systems in operation now power small lighthouses and warning buoys.

Ocean Tidal Power
Harnessing tidal energy, on the other hand, involves trapping water at high tide and then capturing its energy as it rushes out and drops in its change to low tide. This is similar to the way water makes hydroelectric dams work. Already some large installations in Canada and France generate enough electricity to power thousands of homes.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
An OTEC system uses temperature differences between deep and surface waters to extract energy from the flow of heat between the two. An experimental station in Hawaii hopes to develop the technology and someday produce large amounts of electricity on par with the cost of conventional power technologies.

The technology is very expensive at this point but inevitably will become more affordable. In the meantime, some groups have already started building ocean powered generators in Seattle, New Hampshire, and New York City

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