Researchers from Ryerson University Suggest Use of Ocean Energy

World over the growing demand for energy has escalated the search for feasible renewable energy alternatives.

Farshid Zabihian and Professor Alan Fung analyzed data from bodies of water in Iran to assess the viability of marine energy to meet global energy demand. Credit:Dave Upham

A new study by the researchers of Ryerson University unveils that lakes and oceans have enough untapped energy to meet the global energy needs. The study paper titled, “Review of Marine Renewable Energies: Case Study of Iran,” was lead authored by Alan Fung, a professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Ryerson University and released in the journal, Renewable and sustainable Energy Reviews June 2011 issue. The statistics needed for the study was supplied by Zabihian, who read power generation in Iran before joining Ryerson to pursue his PhD.

In their study, the researchers examined the feasibility of generating power by deploying five different types of marine energy such as wave energy, tidal energy, ocean thermal energy, ocean current energy and salinity gradient energy. They found out that each one of the type exclusively suited to different water bodies in various places of Iran has the viability to use in similar types of regions in other parts of the world.

The wave energy developed by the effect of wind over water do not need large tract of land to seize the energy from the waves coming towards the shore. They found that such energy is more suitable to isolated islands that are not connected to the grid power and cost of energy production is quite high. A recent report from World Energy Council estimates that nearly 12% of the global power demand can be met by wave energy. They found that Tidal energy induced by gravitational powers of sun and moon and the rotational movement of the earth, is a sure source of energy. Tidal energy can be generated either by utilizing the tidal current or using the variation between ebb and flow water levels.

The researchers also studied the other ocean generated energies such as ocean thermal energy, which banks on the use of the variance in temperature between cold deep water and warm shallow water, ocean current energy, which need erection of underwater turbines to accumulate the power produced by the deepwater temperature variations and wind and finally the salinity gradient energy, which utilizes the osmotic pressure difference between the saline water and fresh water to produce power.

On the issue, that some of the mentioned marine energy sources are yet to develop full-fledged commercial technologies for use, the researchers suggest the use of prototype and low level technologies and pilot projects in smaller communities instead of waiting for a perfectly developed technology.



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