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News Article

Hydropower Reimagined: How to Produce Power from The Ocean

By Cas Biekmann | Mon, 06/14/2021 - 16:57

Students from Baja California Sur’s Center for Technical and Higher Education (CETYS) developed an energy project that could generate energy from ocean wave movements. Other forms of power generation potential can be found in the sea. How could this be turned into future benefits for countries like Mexico?

Using the natural movement of ocean waves, two CETYS student teams analyzed and designed innovative digital prototypes that could convert wave energy into mechanical energy. This would then be turned into electrical energy. A solution close to shore could generate around 2MW of energy, whereas the other team’s offshore proposition could generate as much as 15MW, the university reported. Considering the energy shortage that exists in the Baja California Sur peninsula’s isolated grid, such options could offer a feasible addition to the energy mix.

Considering that two thirds of our planet is submerged in water, it makes sense for engineers to investigate the world’s largest bodies of water to see if it can be utilized for much-needed energy production. Technology such as wave energy converters (WEC) have been under development for quite some time, but the damage that storms can pose to its structure have been a challenge thus far. Nevertheless, initiatives such as the one in Baja California have the potential to overcome these issues.

Nevertheless, other options for marine-based energy production are in the works as well. Research from. Academic outlet The Conversation shows that a combination of mechanical and biological energy in the ocean looks promising as well. A so-called Bio-Oscillator looks to incorporate marine life like mussels and algae in the submerged part of a WEC. These parts do not experience much a motion when operation and add drag and inertia to the system. The main advantage of these species is that they grow naturally and do not suffer a lot of damage when storms occur.

The greatest potential for power production on sea, however, is that of offshore wind energy. This week, the US reported it was looking into wind energy construction in the Gulf of Mexico, an opportunity many industry insiders had been trying to make a part of the policy agenda. "We are well positioned to support a fledgling wind industry in the Gulf of Mexico by leveraging the transportation, construction, engineering expertise already associated with our traditional fuels production operations offshore," said a spokesperson of Louisiana's Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards. The Vineyard Wind Project, just offshore from Massachusetts, has received all its permits and would yield over 800MW of capacity after its construction. Several high-profile projects in the EU already exist, with the UK and Germany acting as important frontrunners in the technology. In Mexico, offshore wind conditions are not as optimal as in these countries. A slump in renewable development due to regulatory uncertainty further complicates the potential of future innovative projects.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
CETYS, The Conversation
Photo by:   currens on Pixabay
Cas Biekmann Cas Biekmann Journalist and Industry Analyst