from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Canals: The Making of a Nation: EngineeringTuesday, 1st September 2015 20:00 - BBC FourEpisode 6 of 6 looks at the rise of civil engineering and the feats of technology behind the Leeds-Liverpool canal. Read more: Canals: The Making of a Nation: Engineering
Canals: The Making of a Nation: EngineeringAvailable until Friday, 2nd October 2015 01:50
More or Less: Chinese market crash, e-cigarettes and runnersAvailable until Tuesday, 29th September 2015 20:30
The world’s busiest railway 2015 – Mumbai Railway: Episode 1Available until Tuesday, 29th September 2015 19:00
Are our kids tough enough? Chinese school: Episode TwoAvailable until Monday, 28th September 2015 01:55
Oliver Sacks: "Romantic, in the sense of the romantic poets"For Vaughan Bell of Mind Hacks, the more Sacks wrote, the more we were inspired - and the more we... Read more: Oliver Sacks: "Romantic, in the sense of the romantic poets"
Are our kids tough enough? Chinese schoolIn a unique experiment, five teachers from China take over the education of 50 teenagers in a... Read more: Are our kids tough enough? Chinese school
Challenges in advanced management accountingThis free course, Challenges in advanced management accounting, focuses on strategic management... Try: Challenges in advanced management accounting now
Forensic psychologyDiscover how psychology can help obtain evidence from eyewitnesses in police investigations and... Try: Forensic psychology now
Energy resources: Wave energy
The energy carried by ocean waves derives from a proportion of the wind energy...
The energy carried by ocean waves derives from a proportion of the wind energy transferred to the ocean surface by frictional drag. So, ultimately it stems from the proportion of incoming solar energy that drives air movement. Just how much energy is carried by a single wave depends on the wind speed and the area of ocean surface that it crosses; wave height, wavelength, and therefore wave energy, are functions of the distance or fetch over which the wind blows. This unit considers the power of the waves as a potential source of useable energy and whether or not it can ever make any significant contributionn to global energy supplies.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
- explain the principles that underlie the ability of wave power to deliver useable energy;
- outline the technologies that are used to harness the power of waves;
- discuss the positive and negative aspects of wave energy in relation to natural and human aspects of the environment.
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn and track your progress. Make your learning visible!
Energy resources: Wave energy
Energy from sources other than fossil or nuclear fuels is to a large extent free of the concerns about environmental effects and renewability that characterise those two sources. Each alternative source supplies energy continually, whether or not we use it. Many alternative sources of energy have been used in simple ways for millennia, e.g. wind and water mills, sails, wood burning – but only in the last two centuries has their potential begun to be exploited on an industrial scale. Except for geothermal energy, all have their origins in energy generated outside the Earth, yet the potential of each is limited by its total supply set against its rate of use. Each is likely to be renewable in the sense that the available rates of supply of each exceed those at which they are used. The main concern is whether or not such alternatives can supplant fossil- and nuclear-fuel use to power social needs fast enough to avoid the likelihood of future global warming and other kinds of pollution.
One of the alternative sources to consider is wave energy.
The energy carried by ocean waves derives from a proportion of the wind energy transferred to the ocean surface by frictional drag. So, ultimately it stems from the proportion of incoming solar energy that drives air movement. Just how much energy is carried by a single wave depends on the wind speed and the area of ocean surface that it crosses; wave height, wavelength, and therefore wave energy, are functions of the distance or fetch over which the wind blows.
This unit considers the power of the waves as a potential source of useable energy and whether or not it can ever make any significant contribution to global energy supplies.
This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Earth's physical resources: origin, use and environmental impact (S278) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in.
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Environmental Science courses or view the range of currently available OU Environmental Science courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 2nd June 2011
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.