Wave energy, a form of ocean energy, is emerging as a potential renewable energy source in the United States. While the wind industry is the dominant player in offshore energy, wave energy innovators are managing to establish a presence in states like California and New Jersey.
Wave energy converters take advantage of the up and down movement of waves to generate electricity. With the oceans covering approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface, there is great potential to harness this abundant source of zero-emission energy. However, engineering cost-effective and efficient wave energy devices is challenging.
In recent years, the United States has seen increasing activity in the wave energy sector. The launch of PacWave South, the nation’s first long-range offshore test site off the coast of Oregon, is a significant development. This test site supports the PacWave North site, which is located in shallower waters near the coast.
California, with its vast coastline, is also entering the wave energy arena. The recent passage of SB 605, a pro-wave and tidal energy bill, paves the way for a comprehensive study and evaluation of wave energy potential along the California coast. The Port of Los Angeles’ AltaSea technology project is leading the effort, partnering with more than 30 wave and tidal energy companies.
According to a study by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, it is technically possible to harness enough wave energy on California’s outer continental shelf to power 13 million homes. In addition, wave and tidal energy, when combined, can provide 30% of the country’s total energy needs.
New Jersey, despite facing opposition to its offshore wind energy plans, is also considering wave energy as part of its clean energy portfolio. Assembly Bill 4483 requires the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to study wave energy resources along the state’s coastline. The bill represents an effort to transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources.
Wave energy has great potential, especially in coastal states like California and New Jersey. As the technology continues to advance and overcome challenges, it has the potential to contribute significantly to the country’s renewable energy mix.