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Ocean Energy Basics

The ocean can produce thermal energy from the sun's heat and mechanical energy from the tides and waves.

Northwest Energy Innovations' Azura(TM) wave energy device at the United States Navy's Wave Energy Test Site near Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawai'i. Photo from Northwest Energy Innovations

Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies

The movement of the ocean's waves, tides, and currents carries energy that can be harnessed and converted into electricity to power homes, buildings, and cities.

This movement occurs naturally when waves crash against coastlines and tidal currents ebb and flow. The energy available in this moving water is called kinetic energy, and it can be used to generate electricity.

Capturing Energy from Moving Water

A buoy can harness energy from the vertical rise and fall of ocean waves, as well as the back-and-forth and side-to-side movements, while currents and tides can generate electricity by spinning a turbine.

Devices use to capture hydrokinetic power must be able to withstand turbulent and harsh conditions and be designed to preserve the integrity of the marine environment.

With oceans covering 75% of the planet and many water resources located near the most populated areas, ocean energy has great potential as a plentiful renewable resource.

Additional Resources

For more information about ocean energy, visit the following resources:

Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology Glossary
U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Marine and Hydrokinetic Databases and Systems Fact Sheet
U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy