Wave Energy for Kids

Prototype Pelamis Machine at EMEC in Scotland.

Prototype Pelamis Machine at EMEC in Scotland.

Have you ever had fun just watching the waves roll in? Do you enjoy playing in the waves or searching for the seashells they wash in? The ocean is in constant motion and the waves are full of energy that can be captured and changed into electricity. As a matter of fact, many scientists believe that if we could capture only 1% of the energy in the ocean’s waves, it would make enough electricity to power our entire planet. So how exactly does wave energy work and why aren’t we using it to meet all of our power needs?

How Does Wave Power Work?

Believe it or not, the energy trapped in ocean waves can be called a form of solar energy. What? The energy from the sun is inside the ocean? How did that happen? Well, you know that energy can’t be created or destroyed. It can only be moved from one place or form to another. The heat energy from the sun warms the earth unevenly. This causes air to move around and create wind. The wind then blows across the surface of the ocean, creating waves. So, following that chain, the sun gives off energy as heat. The heat energy is changed into wind energy. Finally, the wind energy is turned into wave energy, which is a kind of kinetic energy.

So why bother with wave energy if we can just use the solar energy directly from the sun? First of all, scientists believe we need to use a mixture of clean energy sources instead of trying to get all of our power from one source. Second, the energy in waves is highly concentrated, which means that there is a whole lot of energy in a small space. So how can we capture that energy?

Scientists are working on several different ways of capturing wave energy. There are devices that sit perpendicular, or crossways of the waves. When the wave hits them, it causes special parts to move and generate electricity. There are others that sit on top of the water and catch waves, making the water inside the device higher than the rest of the ocean. As this water flows over the top of the device, it turns small turbines and makes electricity. These devices and others like them that capture wave energy are called wave converters. Wave converters can be located on shorelines, near the shore, or far from land on the ocean’s surface.

Benefits of Wave Energy

Using wave energy is good for many reasons. First of all, it does not create any harmful gases or solids that will pollute our environment. It makes electricity without doing any harm to the Earth.

It is also good because there is plenty of it available. Since the electricity is made from ocean waves and there will always be waves, this is a renewable resource that will never run out like fossil fuels will.

Wave energy is also cheap. After the wave converter devices are put in place, it costs very little to keep them working and to capture the energy. This means that the electricity made from wave energy won’t cost people as much as some other forms of energy.

Drawbacks of Wave Energy

You might wonder why we don’t get all of our electricity from wave energy since it is clean, cheap, and renewable. While wave energy is a promising source of clean energy, the technology is not perfect yet. The wave converters can be very, very expensive to build and the ones that have already been invented are not always dependable.

Many people also worry that catching wave energy might not be completely safe for our environment. Even though it does not make any pollution, there is a chance that the fluids used in the devices could leak out and pollute the water. This could hurt or kill valuable ocean plants and animals. Since the wave converters have to be attached to the ocean floor, many people worry that this will harm ocean ecosystems and cause other problems.

Still other people wonder if catching wave energy will be bad for people. First of all, the devices can create a lot of noise pollution and can ruin the beauty of the ocean. Many people think this kind of energy is not worth ruining the ocean’s peaceful beauty. There is also a problem with wave converters being dangerous to ships. Many of the world’s goods are transported by ships across the ocean. Wave converters can get in the way of shipping routes and may cause the danger of collisions, which would cause the ship’s fuel and other things to pollute the ocean.

Even if all of these problems can be fixed, wave energy will still not be perfect. It takes areas with a lot of waves to create enough electricity to pay for the converters. There are only a few places on our planet that have that kind of wave activity. Those places are located off the coast of Oregon, Scotland, and Portugal. These places are being used as testing areas for new types of wave converters. As scientists invent newer and better ways of capturing wave energy and converting it to electricity, it will probably be used more and more.

Wave energy is a promising source of clean, safe electricity for our planet. It is cheap to make and does not produce pollution that can harm our planet. It is also a perfect renewable resource. Although it has many good qualities, some people think it is a bad idea because of the possibility of harmful fluid leaks, dangers to ocean ecosystems, noise and visual pollution, and danger to ships traveling across the ocean. While this type of energy will probably never be used to produce all of our planet’s electricity, it is sure to become an important source of energy for many as scientists figure out better, safer ways to use it.



  1. Morgan:-) says:

    This for this website it really has helped me on my science project alot and im so happy that my teacher Mrs.Hayley show me his website.

  2. makenzie says:

    Can you make a diagram on how wave energy is made into electricity? It would be super helpful. Thanks- MakMo


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