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Ocean energy

Ocean or marine energy technologies refer to 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: This is generated by converting the energy within ocean waves (swells) into other forms of energy (currently only electricity). There are many different wave energy technologies being developed and trialled to convert wave energy into electricity
  • Tidal energy: This is generated by harnessing the movement of tides. Tides contain both potential energy, related to the vertical fluctuations in sea level, as well as kinetic energy, related to the horizontal motion of the water.
  • Ocean thermal energy: This is generated by converting the temperature difference between the ocean’s surface water and deeper water into useful energy. Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plants may  be land-based as well as floating or grazing. This has a range of applications for Australia, including electricity generation.

Here is just a sample of what our ocean energy projects are achieving. ARENA’s Carnegie Wave Energy project is developing technology that allows us to go further offshore where there is greater wave power. This new technology hopes to generate four times more power than previous wave technology.

How is ocean energy used in Australia?

Ocean energy technologies are at an early and exciting stage of development.

There are a small number of pilot-scale ocean energy projects in Australia, some of which are supported by ARENA.

Take a look at all our ocean energy projects.