The power of the oceans

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

This article, published by Leonardo Energy, examines the potential contribution that the power of the oceans can add to the energy mix in the next 20 years.

The author writes that there is a growing consensus as to the degree that renewable energy sources will be able to contribute to the energy mix in the short term. However, he believes that the power of the oceans has thus far been underestimated.

The author explains that approximately two-thirds of the earth is covered by oceans and seas. This large surface area captures a huge amount of solar heat naturally, which in turn, results in a thermal gradient between the top and the bottom of the oceans that can be harvested in a variety of different ways for the generation of electricity. 

Local variations in sunlight lead to the geographical temperature differences that power ocean currents and the displacement of air, the author continues. Those can be harvested by marine-current power stations and off-shore wind farms. In addition, the wind also creates waves that can be used to generate electricity. Finally, the gravity of the moon moves the sea causing tidal variances, movements that can be harvested by tidal power stations.

However, the author says that the combined potential of all these generation systems in the coming decades is still largely unknown.

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