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Ocean Energy

Ocean Energy

Where can energy be found in the oceans and seas,
and how can it be harnessed and converted
for human use?

Back Mechanical energy
Major global currents
  • > Ocean gyres
  • > Antarctic circumpolar current
Grands courants
Considerable, continuous energy, but very difficult to harness.
Coastal currents
  • > Close and parallel to the coastline, in shallow to medium depths
  • > Caused by waves, wind or an uneven ocean floor
Courants côtiers
Energy harnessed and converted into electricity
using different types of underwater turbines
Hydrolienne Hydrolienne
Tsunami currents
  • > Cataclysmic
  • > Caused by earthquakes, the eruption of underwater volcanoes or large meteorites
Courants de tsunami
Tremendous, short-lived energy that is unpredictable and negligible compared to regular currents
Waves, ocean swells
  • > Seemingly
    periodic movements
  • > On the surface of seas,
    oceans and lakes
  • > Caused by the wind
Vagues, houle
Energy that can potentially be harnessed by open-sea solutions like Pelamis for non-breaking waves and by near-shore devices such as caissons for breaking waves. However, these projects are still in the research stage, with concept devices and prototypes.
Convertisseur Convertisseur
Tidal currents
  • > Perpendicular to the coastline
  • > Caused by tides
Courants de marée
Energy harnessed and converted into electricity using different
types of underwater turbines or specific dams,
as at the Rance tidal power station (France).
Marémotrice Marémotrice
  • Energy used by humans
  • Energy used or usable by humans, but within certain limits
  • Energy that is not usable by humans
IDIX for planete-energies.com
Back Thermal energy
Solar Energy
  • > Soaked up by the oceans
  • > Restored in the form of heat in surface waters
Energy can be harnessed and converted
into electricity by devices that
make use of the difference in temperature
between surface water (22°C and higher)
and deep water (2°C to 4°C). However,
these installations are still costly,
not very efficient and
only really profitable in tropical regions.
Turbo Turbo
  • Energy used by humans
  • Energy used or usable by humans, but within certain limits
  • Energy that is not usable by humans
IDIX for planete-energies.com
Back Chemical energy
Energy from vertebrates and invertebrates(fish, sea mammals, sea turtles, etc.)and zooplankton
  • > Energy accumulated solely as a result of the animals' growth
Énergie des animaux
Energy mainly
recoverable as
food for
humans or animals.
Energy from algae and phytoplankton
  • > Energy in the form of carbohydrates and fats
  • > Convert solar energy through photosynthesis
Énergie des algues
The energy from certain micro-algae
such as diatoms (brown algae) and
chlorophyceae (green algae) is used to make
biofuels in a number of projects, some of
which have reached the pre-industrial stage.
However, these projects are hampered by
the very low efficiency of photosynthesis and,
at present, are all located in onshore plants.
Pompe Pompe
Energy from seabed biomass
  • > Accumulation of methane hydrates that constitute major carbon sinks
  • > Accumulated in the top layers of seabed sediment
  • > Mainly generated by bacterial fermentation
Énergie de la biomasse
According to certain studies, methane
reserves may considerably outstrip
known reserves of oil,
conventional gas and coal.
A methane hydrate prototype project
was recently conducted
in Japan, but using
this energy would probably be very
hazardous for the climate due to
massive greenhouse gas emissions.
Réserves Réserves
A methane hydrate prototype project
was recently conducted
in Japan, but using
this energy would probably be very
hazardous for the climate due to
massive greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Energy used by humans
  • Energy used or usable by humans, but within certain limits
  • Energy that is not usable by humans
IDIX for planete-energies.com

The seas and oceans are teeming with many different forms of energy, practically all of which are renewable. The sun is the main source, generating mechanical energySum of the potential energy and kinetic energy of an object or system... from the major ocean currents and waves, chemical energy through marine organisms and thermal energy by heating the surface water. But the moon also plays a role by influencing the tides with its gravitational pull. And so too does the Coriolis force, which is generated by the Earth's rotation and affects the movement of ocean currents.

As the world transitions into a low-carbon future, the question is how to recover some of these enormous energy reserves to help reduce fossil fuelFuel is any solid, liquid or gaseous substance or material that can be combined with an oxidant... consumption. 

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Tags: Ocean energy