Sustainability & Energy Efficiency

Solar, Wind…and now, Waves

When you think about the term “renewable energy,” what comes to mind?

You may start to envision the rooftop-mounted solar arrays in fields and industrial parks that you pass along your commute to work. Or, you may think of the whooshing of the large propeller blades characteristic of a wind farm.

However, if you ask experts at the Department of Energy for their opinion on upcoming trends in renewable energy, their minds immediately wander to the sea.

In mid-November, the Energy Department announced that $40 million in funding had been awarded to the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University. The award was issued to fund the construction of an open-water, grid connected national wave energy testing facility.

What is wave energy?

Waves contain kinetic energy. By placing generators on the surface of the ocean, kinetic energy from incoming or outgoing tides can be captured and turned into mechanical energy. The generators then turn that mechanical energy into electricity.

Why invest in wave energy?

In its announcement about the new wave energy facility, the Department of Energy made a compelling case for the future of this emerging energy source. “More than 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of coastlines, offering America the potential to develop a domestic wave energy industry that could help provide reliable power to coastal regions,” the release stated.

The potential is immense. Many of our nation’s largest cities are located on coastlines and may soon be supported by surrounding waters. And because the tides are continual, it is a renewable resource that doesn’t have to rely upon sunny or windy conditions to operate at maximum capacity.

Just how much energy is there in our coastal ocean waters? According to the Energy Department, wave energy has the potential to generate 1,170 terawatt-hours per year—equivalent to more than 25 percent of all U.S. electricity consumption.

Constellation, helping you ride the wave

You can allow your business to be crushed by a wave, or you can choose to hop on your proverbial surf board and let your operations glide into the future smoothly. In other words, don’t let changing market conditions and emerging technology frighten you from embracing the very tools that’ll help you navigate choppy waters.

That’s why we’re dedicated to keeping our customers up to date on the latest innovations in the energy industry. To learn more about how you can leverage emerging energy solutions at your facilities, click here.

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