Wave energy is becoming a viable source of power. Through harnessing the power of ocean waves, generators are able to turn large amounts of wave power into energy. According to the UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills, Scotland and Japan now both have wave energy generators producing electricity for their local communities. Wave energy boasts many advantages such as its low cost, zero to no pollution, and a large energy output. There are, however, many disadvantages to this energy source as well.
Wave power generators require a consistent flow of powerful waves in order to create a consistent energy output, according to the United States Minerals Management Service. Waves, created by the wind skimming over the ocean's surface, are fairly consistent in parts of the world, including the west coasts of the United States and Europe, the coast of Japan, and the coast of New Zealand. Those areas still experience unreliable wave behaviour, though. Because waves are erratic, the amount of energy a wave generator can produce is unpredictable and, therefore, cannot be used as a sole reliable energy source.
Wave energy generators that are fixed, meaning attached to the seafloor or the shore, can cause disturbances in the seafloor and to marine ecosystems, according to the OCS Alternative Energy Program. Even above-water floating generators can disturb the natural marine habitat in a particular area and produce unforeseen outcomes. Although the generators cause no pollution once constructed, accidental hydraulic fluid leaks can cause a major environmental problem.
Noise and Visual Pollution
Wave energy generators can cause noise pollution and be a nuisance to those living close to them, according to the UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills. The noise emanating from a generator, though, is often covered up by the noise of the waves. Wave power generators can also be unsightly to some. Floating devices are large snakelike machines floating parallel to one another throughout an area close to the seashore. Some may find them offensive or unpleasant.
Hazard to Boats
Because of their large nature, wave energy generators may cause problems with commercial shipping and other boats in the ocean, according to the OSC Alternative Energy Program. Boats not able to see the generators could cause a potential collision hazard and pose problems for the safety of both those on board and to the wave energy generator. A collision could cause a hydraulic spill or leak and become an environmental hazard.