The Status

Much progress has been made to develop electricity from sources, such as the wind and the sun, that will not damage the environment.  For years, marine kinetic energy has also been considered a possible source for generating clean electricity.  Today, that prospect is moving to reality.

An Ocean of Power exists all around us.

This animation from NASA clearly demonstrates how ocean currents flow in all the world’s oceans.  The currents can be thought of as rivers that exist within the oceans, with predictable directions, pace, and borders.  Then, the electricity generated by currents can be connected directly to the grid.

In addition to using ocean currents, electricity can also be generated by tidal flow.

verdant-power-east-river-2-537x365In 2008, Verdant Power deployed the turbines pictured here in New York’s East River as an important test to determine how much electricity they could create.  Since that first test, the project has moved to its third stage to build a system of 30 turbines in the river.  Now, some five years since that first test, HAE is deploying a turbine about the size of a ten-story office building in a similar project in the Indian Ocean, several miles off the shore of the eThekwini Municipality of South Africa.  It is envisioned that, as in the case of the East River project, HAE’s project in South Africa will also enter staged construction of a more complex system that would have the capacity to generate as much as 100 MW of electricity.

Because ocean currents never stop, they will always be available to generate electricity.  Thus, unlike wind- and solar-energy solutions, there is no need to create systems to store electricity.

iStock_000003696667XSmallUnlike the wind, which dies down, and solar energy, which is not available after the sun sets or when hidden by clouds, ocean currents are non-ending and basically unchanging.  The electricity generated by ocean currents can be connected directly to the grid rather than to an additional system to store electricity needed when solar panels or wind turbines are not able to operate.  The elimination of a storage system simplifies and reduces the expense of marine kinetic power generation solutions.

Ocean current-generated electricity is quickly becoming a reality.

iStock_000019097347SmallNot too long ago, solar-generated energy was considered a nice concept – a dream.  That was the case for wind-generated energy as well.  Today, wind farms can be seen worldwide, and solar panels are becoming ubiquitous on rooftops and in large expanses of land dedicated to panels to produce electricity for large population areas.  Ocean current-generated electricity follows the same evolution as wind and solar systems, moving from concept to initial tests to the deployment of the first systems.  Eventually, ocean current generating systems are also likely to become a commonly used approach to produce electricity, albeit they will not be visible because they will be moored under the surface of the ocean to avoid any intrusion into shipping lanes.  What role is HAE playing in making that become a reality?  Click here.