Ocean energy

What is ocean energy?

Ocean energy is a term used to describe all forms of renewable energy derived from the sea.

There are two broad types of ocean energy: mechanical energy from the tides and waves, and thermal energy from the sun’s heat.


Ocean energy is classified as:

  • wave energy: generated by converting the energy of ocean waves (swells) into other forms of energy (currently only electricity). There are many different technologies that are being developed and trialled to convert the energy in waves into electricity
  • tidal energy: generated from tidal movements. Tides contain both potential energy, related to the vertical fluctuations in sea level, and kinetic energy, related to the horizontal motion of the water. It can be harnessed using technologies using energy from the rise and fall of the tides or by technologies using energy from tidal or marine currents)
  • ocean thermal energy: generated by converting the temperature difference between surface water and water at depth into useful energy. Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plants may have a range of applications for Australia, including electricity generation. They may be land-based, floating or grazing.

How is ocean energy used in Australia?

Ocean energy technologies are still at an early stage of development, with deployments limited to small pilot scale in Australia.

Ocean energy projects ARENA is supporting