TJ8.3 Energy Extraction from Ocean Currents and Waves: Mapping the Most Promising Locations

Monday, 7 January 2013: 4:30 PM
Room 18B (Austin Convention Center)
Ana C. Ordonez, University of Washington, Lacey, WA; and B. Fox-Kemper and P. E. Hamlington

Concerns about fossil fuel supplies and an ever-increasing demand for energy have prompted the search for alternative power sources. One option is the ocean, a power-dense and renewable source of energy; but its capacity to meet human energy demands is poorly understood. While raw wave energy resources have been investigated at many scales, little is known about where and how much power can be extracted. Even less is known about the energy available in ocean currents, especially on a global scale. This study assessed where significant amounts of energy in ocean wind waves and currents are available for human use. Global wave energy transport, coastal wave energy flux, and current energy were calculated from model data and mapped. This data was then incorporated into a recoverable ocean energy resource assessment for the U.S. The assessment considered wave and current energy farms consisting of the Pelamis wave energy convertor and SeaGen marine current turbine, respectively. Estimated farm output was combined with physical and ecological data, including bathymetry and protected areas, to investigate the distribution and value of wave and current energy along the U.S. coast. The results suggest that promising amounts of wave and current energy are available both globally and around the United States. Potential locations for wave and current energy farms appear to exist on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. Furthermore, the framework used in this assessment can be enhanced to better model the locations and values of energy resources. Future research in this area may lead to greater support for developing, testing, and deploying ocean energy converter technology.
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