Waves of Change

The concept of harnessing tidal energy is hitting the shores of Ireland with the launch of several wave power projects (see “Wave Power,” Currents, May/June 2008). The island nation, with its position in the rollicking North Atlantic, is ideally situated to take advantage of this energy source. Graham Brennan, program manager for renewable-energy research and development at Sustainable Energy Ireland, the government’s green-technology arm, thinks waves could potentially provide up to 70 percent of Ireland’s electrical power.

An article for CNETNews.com recently profiled several companies—Wavebob, Ocean Energy and Open Hydro—that have developed wave turbine prototypes currently being tested in Ireland and off the coast of Scotland. “There are higher average wind speeds in the band of the Earth that we live in,” says Brennan. “The fetch [the distance that wind travels without obstruction] across the Atlantic is one of the longest in the world, and that wind energy in turn propels waves. The average wave energy is 70 kilowatts per wave meter. There is nothing else like it.”