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Surprising Science

Harnessing Sea Power, with Style

While efforts to harness the sea for electricity generation are still in their infancy, the promise of predictable, reliable and clean energy is encouraging increasing investment around the globe.

What’s the Latest Development?


While efforts to harness the sea for electricity generation are still in their infancy, some interesting projects are underway. One device, set to be installed in the world’s first commercial wave farm off Portugal, looks like a giant sea snake floating on the water. “Waves passing underneath make it flex around its joints, and this movement operates the hydraulic pumps and the turbines housed within its sections.” The world’s most energetic tide is thought be generated by the Atlantic Ocean pushing into the North Sea.

What’s the Big Idea?

Other powerful tides exist off the coasts of Ireland, New Zealand and Canada. And since the most powerful seas are scattered across the globe, the technology being developed varies widely from country to country. The more ideas the better: Tidal power is an especially difficult problem because machinery must be able to cope with rising and falling tides and engineers must find a method of transmitting power from sea to land. The world’s first operating tidal electricity generator is based in Bristol, U.K.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com


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