Sustainability | Renewable Energy
Hydrokinetic renewable energy sources
Illustration of hydrokinetic renewable energy sources

Hydrokinetic technologies have come to the forefront of renewable energy research and development in recent years. The power of tides, currents, and waves represent underdeveloped potential sources of energy. Water is far denser than air, and sea water is roughly 800 times denser than air; this fact alone makes the potential power of hydrokinetic energy an opportunity that can’t be ignored. 

Hydrokinetic Energy

Hydrokinetic energy uses the kinetic power of tides, currents, and waves, to create electricityThe development of technologies used in harnessing the energy of waves and sea currents is still in research and development, with a few demonstration projects as described below. There are plenty of larger, operational hydrokinetic systems, using freshwater tidal energy, in place worldwide. In large-scale use worldwide today are freshwater hydrokinetic systems that harness the energy of tides and currents, such as tidal barrages and tidal stream generators. 


For more on freshwater tidal energy systems, as well as hydroelectric dams, please see Green City Times’ article on hydroelectricity


Wave energy technology remains under development with a few relatively small wave energy farm demonstration projects off the coasts of Hawaii, Scotland, France, Spain, and Portugal. Generating wave power is most commonly done in these projects with specialized buoys that harness the energy of waves. These technologically sophisticated hydrokenetic buoys drive internal turbines with sea wave energy, creating electricity (similar to how a hydroelectric dam works); and then send the power to an offshore substation and/ or an undersea substation (which then sends the energy back to a power substation on land), as seen in this diagram: 


Wave Farm diagram
Wave Farm diagram


For more on the future of wave farms, please see:

Could wave power be the next boom in renewable energy? from Fast Company



For more information on hydrokinetic systems, please also see:

Hydroelectricity



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