Wave Energy Devices on the Oregon Coast: Avoiding Harming the Environment

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The Oregon coast is 363 miles long and has powerful waves and consistent winds. This makes Oregon’s coast a good candidate for establishing hydrokinetic energy facilities. Hydrokinetic energy is energy created from the movement of water, in this case, wave energy. Wave energy is the energy created from the movement of waves that is captured by a device that converts the movement of waves into electric energy. Although wave energy can help the environment, it can also cause harm. Oregon can reduce the amount of harmful environmental impacts caused by wave energy devices by limiting their location to areas that will have the least impact on marine ecosystems. The main source of energy in the U.S. comes from fossil fuels. The combustion of fossil fuels creates harmful emissions (e.g. sulfur dioxide, mercury, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and fine particulate matter), and is becoming increasingly expensive. In addition, coal- and oil-powered energy facilities are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases are believed to be responsible for climate change. Renewable energy is a cleaner, and ultimately, less costly energy source. Wave energy devices can help the environment by reducing the amount of energy generated from fossil fuels. Wave energy can potentially be a more reliable source of energy than other renewable sources. Hydrokinetic energy is more predictable compared to wind and solar energy and it can be predicted days in advance. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are available twenty or thirty percent of the time; whereas wave energy is available up to ninety percent of the time, making it a more reliable source. The energy density (the energy stored in a system) of hydroki... ... middle of paper ... ...ms should avoid and areas where they could be potentially installed. Once the areas for potential wave energy sites are mapped out, Oregon should begin launching prototypes to test how the devices work and how they affect Oregon’s marine ecosystems. Prototype testing will help developers of wave energy devices test their devices and make any fixes in their devices design. Once prototype testing is completed, if the devices do not cause a significant amount of harm to marine ecosystems, commercial devices should be launched. Commercial devices should be launched at a very slow rate and examined on a regular basis, so if any problems occur, they can be caught and fixed before they cause any significant damage. Wave energy development will not only benefit Oregon but developments and observations from Oregon projects can expand wave energy development across the globe.

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