As environmental concerns increase and demand for sustainable energy rises wind and solar have seemed to be the go-to for renewable sources. Seeing as we are a world composed of 71% water harnessing the motion of the ocean is becoming increasingly attractive.
Water is denser than air, by 1000 times over making it a more efficient natural resource when converted into usable energy. To put in perspective each meter of the California coast has the potential to produce 30 kilowatts of hydrokinetic energy. Solar panels at most generate 0.3 kilowatts of energy for every square meter they cover and each square meter of a wind tower can only produce up to 3 kilowatts of energy.
There are other advantages to hydrokinetic energy as well unlike solar which can only be taken advantage of during periods of daylight wave energy can be harnessed every day all day year after year and its power output is more predictable to measure compared to its other renewable energy counterparts.
Studies done by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) indicate that the outer continental shelf alone has the potential to harness just over 1,000 terawatts of energy a year.- Awesome right?- but did you ever wonder how to put its potential into perspective, Let's take a dive? One terawatt of energy alone can provide energy for one hundred thousand homes here in the United States, or in other words, one-third of America's total electricity demand.
Harnessing the potential of this renewable resource sounds easy enough and I'm sure you might have wondered- why isn't wave energy as popular as solar and wind? Well… let’s look at the economics. Like all emerging businesses; it comes with challenges and high cost. For the companies looking to bring this type of power to market infrastructure expenditures as well as barriers to entry, play a big part as companies compete for coastal space for other ventures. Also, companies in the tidal energy sector face other hurdles such as damage to equipment caused by corrosive sea salt, and critical infrastructure protection issues (combining electrical utilities and water).
Despite the challenges of harnessing the ocean to produce power, its still in its infant stages. We expect this sustainable market to grow exponentially in the coming years as demand increases and innovation advances.
Stay tuned for more insight on the hydrokinetic energy markets as well as investment opportunities within this space