- This report deals with the current status of four promising
sources of electrical energy generation from the oceans. They
are, in sequence;
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion: Where energy is obtained by
exploiting the temperature differences between warm surface
waters, and much deeper colder waters.
Tidal Energy: Where differences in water height between tidal
cycles is contained within enclosures of the sea, and then
released through turbines to generate power.
Wind Energy: Where the high velocity of wind over the ocean is
harnessed by wind turbines mounted on offshore structures.
Wave Energy: Where the power of ocean swells is captured by
devices which turn this energy of height and movement into useful
Although many other forms of obtaining energy from the sea have
been proposed, the above four have been chosen for presentation
due to the fact that each has reached at least the prototype
stage or has actually been commercially implemented. Other forms
of ocean energy generation, such as current energy, power from
salinity gradients, and kelp biomass conversion, are largely
still in creative infancy.
Presentation of each of the four energy generating techniques is
by three sections; Background and Technology, Environmental Impacts, and Potential for Oregon's Territorial Sea. A less
researched and detailed treatment of Ocean Thermal Energy
Conversion is presented than for the other three potential
sources of ocean energy. This is for two reasons. First, unlike
the other energy sources, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion has
previously received extensive popular publicity. Much better
treatments of the subject are available than presented here.
Secondly, the technique has absolutely no potential for Oregon's
territorial sea, a focus to which this report is geared.
It is unlikely that any of these forms of energy production will
provide part of Oregon's near term energy supply. A present over
capacity of electrical power, as well as low oil prices now
remove the incentive to begin development. High capital costs of
construction, and an energy policy which provides indirect
subsidies to traditional energy generating techniques, including
nuclear power, make ocean energy electrical costs higher than
Such a situation may change in the future. Nuclear power may
become politically unacceptable. Oil prices will rise. Technology
of ocean energy will improve. Advances in design, and
standardization of techniques will bring cost down. Long term
commitment to ocean energy may be forthcoming. And finally,
related developments such as workable, cost effective "super
conductors" may allow the intermittent power of the ocean to be
stored without loss, resulting in a more dependable ocean energy