Over dependence on fossil fuels and other nonrenewable sources of energy almost depleted all the resources and then human beings started trying other sources, which are quite useful. One such source of energy is the oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of earth’s surface. Such a massive presence of oceans on earth provides not just beautiful vacation spots but also quite a magnificent source of energy, which we call the Ocean Power. This article is all about ocean power, its nature, scope, and types of methods it utilizes to generate ocean power.
How Ocean Energy works?
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Not many ways are available that can derive renewable energy from oceans but the few ways that are available are quite helpful and efficient. Tidal energy, ocean currents, ocean wind energy and salinity gradients, wave power, and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) are some ways that generate ocean energy. Let us see how all these systems work to generate renewable energy from oceans:
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
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Heat engines produce electricity in OTEC. Various kinds of heat engines are used for this purpose, and heat engine is a machine that works with two different temperatures – hot and cold. OTEC is a method of ocean power generation that makes use of the temperature difference. The temperature difference here refers to the difference of temperature between the hot surface of the ocean and the cool ocean depths.
The warm surface of the ocean vaporizes the fluid; the fluid is the one that has a real low boiling point like ammonia. When the vapor expands, it makes the turbine move and then the cool layers of the ocean are used to cool down the vapor and stop the turbine from further movement.
After sometime, the same fluid can be used again to repeat the process and generate energy. The process can be repeated and continued for longer periods depending upon the energy demand. The more the difference in temperature, the better is the energy production.
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This method employs the energy produced by waves in the sea to produce energy like electricity. So it is one method that uses one energy to produce another. The scope and potential of wave power is extremely high but it is a tough method, especially to be used on a large scale.
It is a tough method and at present, not much is known about it, so there is just handful of wave generator plants across the globe. Much of research is being done in this direction and because of it, the first commercial wave power farm in Oregon has come up.
Energy Generation from Salinity Gradients
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This method brings into use the osmotic pressure difference between the salt water and fresh water. Out of numerous salinity gradient power generation methods, the PRO (Pressure Retarded Osmosis) is the most popular. PRO method pumps seawater into a chamber that has a low pressure as compared to the difference of pressure between salt and fresh water. The pressure created moves the turbine and this is how electricity is produced.
Ocean Current Energy Production
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This method is all about harnessing the kinetic energy that ocean currents produce. The scope of this method is so bright that even if just 1/1000th of the energy from Gulf Stream is harnessed it could generate great amount of electricity.
The energy needs are growing with the growth of population. More and more energy sources are required to fulfill energy demands of everybody, and oceans have quite the potential to fulfill all energy requirements because they have such massive presence on earth. They can provide tremendous amounts of clean and green energy.