3 Uses of Wave Energy Explained

Uses of wave energy are; water desalination, water pumping, and electricity generation.

This article discusses the uses of wave energy, as follows;






1). Water Desalination (as one of the Uses of Wave Energy)

Energy sources for desalination of seawater include; fossil fuels and renewable energy resources like solar, geothermal, wind and wave energy.

Wave energy is used in water desalination by supplying wave pressure to the osmotic desalination system, or by using wave energy to generate electricity that is used to power the desalination plant.

The above two options represent direct and indirect wave-powered desalination respectively, and illustrate the versatility and flexibility of wave power for such applications.

Effective analysis of the performance and energy efficiency of wave power for desalination, depends on the technique being used.

Desalination techniques are mechanical vapor compression, osmosis, and electrodialysis [3].

The most energy efficient way to desalinate water is reverse osmosis using a pressurized, semi-permeable membrane [1].

The amount of energy it takes to desalinate water ranges from 3-20 kWh of electricity per cubic meter (m^3) of water. This is the general range across all desalination techniques.

For reverse osmotic desalination using wave energy, the energy consumed may be between 3 and 10 kWh.

In theory however, desalination energy demand may be as low as 1 kWh per m^3. This degree of energy conservation and efficiency can hardly be achieved in real life, due to energy losses by friction and design shortcomings.






2). Water Pumping

Fossil fuel is the most commonly used energy resource for all kinds of water pumping.

However, wave energy can also be used to pump water, using the pressure exerted by waves themselves.

There have been multiple models of wave energy-driven water pumping technology. The application of wave energy for pumping water can be exploited in multiple scenarios, including desalination [3].

To calculate the amount of energy needed to pump water, the work done in the process must be estimated by multiplying the weight of water by the pumping distance or depth.

Uses of Wave Energy: Water Pumping (Credit: Chrisbioworld 2015 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)
Uses of Wave Energy: Water Pumping (Credit: Chrisbioworld 2015 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)






3). Electricity Generation (as one of the Uses of Wave Energy)

Electricity generation is arguably the most important use of wave energy.

Also, wave energy has huge potential with regards to electricity generation, because sea waves are arguably the most powerful renewable energy carriers [4].

Wave energy generates electricity through energy conversion and electromagnetism; whereby wave kinetic energy is converted to mechanical that rotates a turbine and activates an electric generator [2].

If fully harnesses, wave energy can generate several thousands of terrawatt-hours in electricity globally, each year.







Uses of wave energy are;

1. Water Desalination

2. Water Pumping

3. Electricity Generation







1). Babu, N.; Karthik, K.; Balaji; Nishal, S. (2017). "Wave Energy for Desalination Plants – A Review." INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING RESEARCH & TECHNOLOGY (IJERT) ETDM – 2017 (Volume 5 – Issue 07). Available at: https://www.ijert.org/wave-energy-for-desalination-plants-a-review. (Accessed 25 January 2023).

2). Martinez, M. L.; Silva, R.; Garcia, J. (2021). "How Can We Use Ocean Energy to Generate Electricity?" Frontiers for Young Minds. Available at: https://kids.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frym.2021.609510. (Accessed 26 January 2023).

3). Leijon, J.; Boström, C. (2018). "Freshwater production from the motion of ocean waves – A review." Desalination, Volume 435, 1 June 2018, Pages 161-171. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0011916417314455. (Accessed 25 January 2023).

4). Veerabhadrappa, K.; Suhas; B. G.; Mangrulkar, C. K.; Kumar, R. S.; Mudakappanavar, V. S.; Kambalur, N.; Seetharamu, K. N. (2022). "Power Generation Using Ocean Waves: A Review." Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gltp.2022.05.001. (Accessed 26 January 2023).

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