Ocean waves and tidal currents are one of the most untapped and important, clean, cheap, rich, and reliable sources of renewable energy on the earth.
UC Berkeley professor Reza Alam and his team at the TAF Lab
(Theoretical & Applied Fluid Dynamics Laboratory) have developed a “wave carpet” which can extract the energy of ocean waves and turn it into electricity and freshwater for households and cities.
The idea of tapping into ocean waves for power is not new. Alam’s lab cites an analysis from the London-based nonprofit Carbon Trust that wave energy could potentially provide more than 2,000 terawatt hours of electricity per year, or about 10 percent of global electricity needs.
Alam and his research team are proposing a wave-to-energy conversion system that sits on the seafloor.
“The benefit of having a system underwater is that there is minimal visual and physical impact on boats and sea life,” said Alam. “Our system would work with no problem in stormy conditions because the water column above the carpet buffers the impact momentum of surging waves. In fact, our carpet is even more efficient when ocean waves are stronger.”