Several methods of generating electricity from waves have been developed. Although experimental wave power generators have been built since the 1890s, the first commercial, off Portugal, did not begin operation until 2008.
How It Works
One type of wave power generator consists of series of chambers, linked together, floating on the ocean. The rise and fall of the waves causes the sections of the device to move up and down relative to each other. This motion is used to push oil through a hydraulic ram which drives a generator.
Another method of generating power from waves is with an air turbine. This method uses the motion of the waves to push air through a turbine on the shore.
A third way of generating electricity from waves is to have a piston attached to the sea floor with a float which pulls the piston up and down as the waves rise and fall. This action of the piston is used to pump sea water through pipes to a turbine located on the shore.
Underwater wave power generation
The best locations for wave farms are generally in temperate waters with prevailing westerly winds. There are good locations on west coasts of North and South America, Africa and Australia with Scotland having some of the best potential sites.
Producing electricity from wave energy produces no pollution and, with some types of wave farm, can be located almost entirely on the sea floor, producing no disruption to shipping.