Can The Ocean Solve The U.S. Demand For Energy?

How Can This Technology Change Other Important Global Issues Why This is Important: The oceans cover more than 70% of

How Can This Technology Change Other Important Global Issues

Why This is Important:

The oceans cover more than 70% of Earth’s surface. By harnessing the power of the ocean, we can produce two types of energy: thermal energy from the sun’s heat and mechanical energy from the tides and waves. The total of electricity consumed in the U.S. is approximately 4,000 terawatt-hours per year, with the coastal states using roughly 80% of our country’s electric resources. Ocean energy that could be produced along the US coasts is estimated up to 1,170 terawatt-hours per year by utilizing current technology. That means that renewable ocean power could produce almost a third of the electricity needed to power the U.S.

Types of Ocean Energy:

Thermal Energy:

The sun heats the surface water a lot more than the deep ocean water and this temperature difference creates thermal energy. This can be harnessed through two types of systems.

Closed-cycle systems use the ocean’s warm surface water to vaporize a working fluid, which has a low-boiling point. The vapor expands and turns a turbine. Open-cycle systems boil seawater. This produces steam that passes through a turbine.


(Thermal Energy Generation)

Mechanical Energy:

Ocean waves are made by wind blowing over ocean waters. They are a renewable resource that is more consistent and predictable than wind or solar generation. The electricity conversion of both tidal and wave energy involves mechanical devices.

A dam is used to convert tidal energy into electricity by forcing the water through turbines, activating a generator. The mechanical power created then drives a turbine.


(Mechanical Energy Generation)

Other Applications for Ocean Energy:

Besides powering the electricity grid, ocean energy could also be the solution to the world’s ever growing need for more fresh water. Ocean energy could be used to produce the energy requirements for off-shore water desalination processes.


Desalination is the process of removing salt and minerals from ocean water to create fresh water. In many parts of the world, groundwater is shrinking, but ocean water is abundant. Ocean water contains the wave energy resources that can run water desalination systems. These energy solutions could push forward water desalination technology that would help address the global water crisis.

To Summarize:

The information above details a couple of ways that harnessing the ocean can increase the available electricity, and produce enough clean drinking water to ease the worlds growing demand.
To learn more about renewable technology, and how this can affect your energy strategy, contact one of our Senior Advisors today at 1(800) 920-4631. We are here to answer any questions you have.


Matt Helland
Sr. VP of Client Relations




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