The Basics of Wave Energy, by David Leb

Wind blowing over the ocean’s surface creates waves. As anyone who has witnessed a storm over the ocean can attest, waves generate tremendous power. The challenge of wave energy is how to harness that power and convert it to usable electricity.

Wave energy is only possible in those areas of the world where the wind is consistent enough to produce steady waves. Prime sites for wave energy include the northwestern coast of the United States, northern Canada, western Scotland, southern Africa, and Australia.

Wave energy technologies use the surface motion of waves or underwater pressure fluctuations to generate electricity. Nearly all are designed for use at or near the surface, and may be installed near shore, offshore, or far offshore, depending on the type of technology. The various types of wave energy devices use different methods for trapping waves and using their energy to drive turbines, electromechanical, or hydraulic energy converters.

Developers of wave energy technology must keep in mind potential hazards to the environment, including impact on the surrounding marine environment, harmful leaks or spills, noise pollution, and conflict with shipping lanes or recreational boaters.

About the Author:

David Leb founded Eco Wave Power (, whose unique products, the Wave Clapper and the Power Wing, offer cutting-edge innovations in wave energy. David Leb also owns Rancho Estero, a surf camp in Panama.