9 of the 10 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since the year 2000. Increased human greenhouse-gas emissions are the primary cause of the current global warming trend and approximately 87% of human greenhouse gas emissions come from the extraction, production and burning of fossil fuels.
The burning of coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat is the largest single human source of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change is disrupting the global water cycle. Melting glaciers and ice caps, rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns, prolonged droughts and more intense storms and floods are some of the most severe impacts to the water cycle being documented.
The extraction, production and burning of fossil fuels are among the largest sources of water and air pollution.
Canada’s Tar Sands operations require over 3 barrels of water to extract 1 barrel of oil from bitumen.
As many as 1.2 million people in China die each year due to outdoor air pollution, largely caused by coal production for electricity.
Increasing domestic production of renewable energy helps protect economies from the volatile prices of oil and gas.
Renewable Energy is one of our best long-term solutions to climate change…
but there are limitations.
Neither wind nor solar energy is capable of producing electricity 24/7.
How do we harness
the energy in the ocean?
Did you know that waves are created by the sun?
Waves are created when wind blows across the surface of the ocean.
Winds are created by the sun as it unevenly heats up the surface of the Earth and causes hot air to move from areas of high pressure to low pressure.
So, both wave and wind energy devices are indirectly capturing solar energy!
Devices that capture energy from the movements of ocean surface waves.
Unfortunately, this technology is only economically feasible in certain areas where temperature gradients in the ocean are extreme, such as near the equator.
In this closed-cycle OTEC system warm seawater is pumped into a chamber where it causes a fluid with a low boiling point, such as ammonia, to vaporize and power a turbine to generate electricity. Cold seawater is then used to condense the fluid back into a liquid to begin the process once again.
These machines work much like wind turbines by capturing the energy of moving water as it is forced through narrow inlets and bays during the rise and fall of tides.
These devices can also be used to capture the energy of large ocean currents like the Gulf Stream.
These large structures resembling hydroelectric dams are built at the mouth of bays that experience large tides.
Tidal barrages capture energy from the rise and fall of tides by holding back water behind a concrete wall and slowly releasing it through a series of turbines.
This technology uses the temperature difference between the warm upper layers and cold bottom layers of seawater to run a heat engine and generate electricity
Tides are created by the eternal movements of the sun and moon and have been moving the ocean since it formed about 3.8 billion years ago.
The timing of high and low tides can be accurately predicted days, weeks and even years into the future.
Waves are everywhere!
The global shoreline is 350,000 km long
(about the same distance from the Earth to the moon) and every inch of shoreline receives wave energy.
Most waves are either too strong or too weak to be useful sources of wave energy.
Can only produce electricity for about 10 hours a day when tides are strongest.
There are a limited number of locations where strong tidal forces are created, like narrow inlets and bays.
New energy technology means that capital costs are relatively high compared with other renewables and very high compared with many non-renewable energy sources.
The total resource potential of wave and tidal energy
is estimated to be between 2000 and 4000
terawatt hours (TWh) per year.
If the full estimated global resource potential was reached,
marine renewable energy could power between
160-320 million homes.
To put this in perspective,
1TWh could power approximately 83,000 households
in North America for a year.
The world's largest power plant, the Three Gorges Dam in China,
generates about 90TWh per year.
Canada’s Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s largest tides, has tremendous potential for tidal energy generation.
Experts predict that enough electricity could be generated from the bay to meet Nova Scotia’s current demand for electricity.
Learn about the latest technologies being developed to harness the power of waves and tides!
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