Waves have a lot of energy

Pelamis wave power device off the coast of Portugal
The Pelamis wave power device in use in Portugal

Source: Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (public domain)

Wave energy site
Diagram of wave energy site.

Source: Adapted from National Energy Education Development Project (NEED).

CETO underwater wave energy device
CETO Underwater Wave Energy Device

Source: Tuscanit, Wikimedia Commons author (GNU free documentation license) (public domain)

Waves are caused by the wind blowing over the surface of the ocean. There is tremendous energy in ocean waves. It is estimated that the total energy potential of waves off the coasts of the United States is 252 billion kilowatthours a year, the equivalent of about 6% of U.S. electricity generation in 2014. The west coasts of the United States and Europe, and the coasts of Japan and New Zealand, have good wave energy potential sites for harnessing wave energy because of wave energy potential.

Different ways to channel the power of waves

One way to harness wave energy is to bend or focus the waves into a narrow channel, increasing their power and size. The waves can then be channeled into a catch basin or used directly to spin turbines that generate electricity.

Many other methods of capturing wave energy are being developed. These methods include placing devices on or just below the surface of the water, and anchoring the devices to the ocean floor.

View wave technology currently being developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology Database.