Opinion, Science

Making Waves – Harnessing The Power Of The Sea For A Sustainable Future. 

Nmesoma Okwudili


July 25, 2023

Marine renewable energy is a beacon of hope in a world that’s grappling with the devastating consequences of fossil fuels. As we face the environmental challenges posed by climate change, the need for alternative energy technologies has become more evident than ever. 

Marine renewable energy offers a vast array of options, ranging from tidal and wave energy to ocean thermal and offshore wind power. It’s a game-changer that can contribute significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change 

Tidal energy, a type of sea renewable energy, uses the moon and sun’s gravitational forces to generate electricity. Tidal power stations use turbines immersed in tidal basins to absorb energy generated by tide changing direction. One of the most significant benefits of tidal energy is its predictability, as tides follow a consistent and reliable rhythm. This dependability assures regular power supply, which is vital for introducing sources of renewable energy into the system. However, tidal energy projects have hurdles because to high construction expenses and significant adverse effects on marine ecosystems, such as changes in tide circulation patterns and fish migration.

The basis of wave energy technology is the idea of harnessing the kinetic energy generated by the regular undulation of ocean waves and then transforming it into a useful electrical form. To efficiently harness this oceanic energy, a wide range of technologies, including wave buoys, oscillating water columns, and submerged pressure differential systems, have been developed. Due to the significant energy reserves present in the vast oceans of the Earth, it is clear that wave energy holds enormous potential. When compared to solar or wind power, wave energy has a more predictable output because it is fundamentally influenced by variables like wind speed and duration. Despite such potential, it is imperative to acknowledge that the wave energy sector remains nascent in its development, grappling with formidable challenges pertaining to the intricacies of technology, the demand for durability amidst harsh marine conditions, and the burden of considerable initial costs.

Also important, is Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC).  It is a unique marine renewable energy technology that exploits the temperature difference between warm surface waters and cold deep waters to generate electricity. OTEC systems utilize a closed-loop cycle or an open-cycle process to drive a turbine and produce power. OTEC has the advantage of being a continuous and reliable source of energy, as temperature differences in tropical oceans remain relatively constant throughout the year. However, OTEC faces challenges associated with infrastructure costs, limited suitable locations near coastlines, and potential environmental impacts on marine ecosystems due to the discharge of cold water.

Another potential is, Offshore wind energy. This entails the strategic installation of wind turbines in expansive oceanic waters, harnessing the formidable and steadfast winds that traverse the seas. Offering an array of advantages over their onshore counterparts, offshore wind farms have emerged as a compelling avenue for sustainable energy generation. Elevated wind speeds in offshore regions, coupled with the diminished visual impact and capacity for larger turbine dimensions, engender a heightened capacity for electricity generation, thus facilitating substantial contributions to the energy requirements of coastal communities. Notably, offshore wind power has been identified as a pivotal contender in propelling the transition towards renewable energy, particularly in regions endowed with robust and unwavering wind resources.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that the implementation of offshore wind projects poses multifarious challenges that necessitate judicious consideration. Paramount among these challenges are the heightened installation and maintenance costs, which demand astute financial planning and support to ensure the viability of such ventures. Additionally, the spatial coexistence of offshore wind farms with prevalent marine activities, encompassing fishing and shipping, may give rise to potential conflicts that warrant thoughtful resolution. 

Aside from well-established maritime renewable energy technologies, some newer alternatives show potential in contributing to the clean energy mix. For example, salinity gradient power, commonly known as blue energy, generates electricity by utilizing the differential in salt content within freshwater and ocean. Although it is still in its early phases of improvement, this technology has an added benefit of continually supplying power without being affected by environmental factors. Furthermore, floating solar panels on marine surfaces, also known as floating photovoltaics (FPV), are expanding popularity as a way to make use of unused space and prevent water evaporation in reservoirs. The creation and execution of these developing technologies has the potential to broaden marine renewable energy sources while also improving their overall durability.

Marine renewable energy sources stand as alluring alternatives to conventional fossil fuels, gracing us with a plethora of benefits. Foremost, their pristine nature ensures minimal greenhouse gas emissions during operation, effectively combatting climate change and curbing air pollution. Their unwavering potential to deliver a stable and dependable energy supply lends strength to grid stability and energy security. Moreover, these innovative technologies sow the seeds of economic prosperity, fostering new opportunities and stimulating growth within the renewable energy sector. As they usher us away from our reliance on fossil fuels, marine renewable energy plays a pivotal role in diversifying our energy portfolio and safeguarding us from the caprices of fuel price fluctuations. Embracing these ethereal energy sources carries us closer to a cleaner, resilient, and prosperous future. 

 Marine renewable energy technologies have great potential, but they also have a number of issues that need to be resolved before they can be widely used. Large-scale adoption is still hampered by one of the biggest roadblocks: the high upfront expenditures of infrastructure and installation. In order to draw investments and promote innovation in this field, monetary incentives and supportive regulations are essential. 

In addition, the irregular and site-specific nature of some marine energy sources, such as wave and tidal energy, necessitates the development of effective storage methods for energy and smart grid technology in order to regulate supply and demand. For marine renewable energy projects to be sustained, environmental issues like effects on marine ecosystems and species must be properly evaluated and managed.

Also important Collaborative efforts between governments, industries, and environmental organizations are necessary to strike a balance between clean energy development and environmental protection.

 In the grand narrative of our quest for a cleaner and more sustainable energy future, marine renewable energy emerges as a pivotal protagonist. Tidal, wave, ocean thermal, and offshore wind power, accompanied by a chorus of emerging technologies, grace the stage with unique virtues of predictability, reliability, and environmental harmony. This ensemble holds the key to reducing the shackles of greenhouse gas emissions, courageously battling the forces of climate change, and securing our energy needs. Alas, as with any great saga, challenges loom on the horizon—costs, technological readiness, and environmental impacts cast shadows upon the path to widespread adoption.

As we discover that creativity and cooperation have the capacity to overcome these obstacles, the story gets more complicated. We set out on an exhilarating quest to harness the limitless energy of the seas, paving the way for a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable world where future generations may prosper amidst the gifts of the tides and the whispering of the waves, with supporting policies as our guide.


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