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Ocean Power May Offer Growth Potential in Blue Economy

  • Kinetic energy in oceans could be tapped to produce vast amounts of energy
  • Technology development could help power coastal communities and give a boost to the blue economy
  • Fishing, shipping, and other operations could reduce development potential

With several offshore wind farms in planning off the Northeast, another forms of renewable power could offer tremendous potential for “blue economy” growth: ocean energy.

The kinetic energy of the ocean has the potential to produce 1,250 to 1,850 terawatt-hours of electricity, according to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This energy would be derived from the motion of tides, waves, and currents, as well as thermal and salinity gradients. Several proposals, including buoys and undersea turbines, have been floated as marine energy technologies.

The motion of the water could offer a more reliable source of energy than wind or solar, and the density of the water can generate more power. Aquantis, a marine turbine developer founded in 2011, is planning to set to debut off Wales, with planning in the works for another development off Florida. One study found that Florida waters alone have the potential to generate four to 10 gigawatt-hours of electricity.

National laboratories and universities, in conjunction with private companies, are currently working to research and develop marine energy systems. More widespread implementation could help power coastal communities and grow onshore economies, though development could also be limited by activities such as shipping, commercial fishing, and naval operations, along with environmental concerns.

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