Anyone who has ever watched an ocean’s waves crash endlessly against a beach has witnessed a continuous source of power. In the realm of renewable energy, ocean wave power has proven elusive to harness and expensive to research. However, the potential for clean energy and economic development continues to entice private and public investors in the United Kingdom and United States.

Experimental Systems In The Orkney Islands Ready For Next Step

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For 20 years, researchers have managed wave power test sites throughout the Orkney Islands off Scotland’s coast. Orbital Marine Power now says that its tidal stream system can advance to large-scale applications. The company plans to install a wave turbine this year that will produce enough electricity for 1,700 homes. Multiple marine power companies have plans to build marine tidal energy farms around the U.K. in the near future.

Coasts of the Orkney Islands near Birsay village, Scotland. Credit: Chmee2

Tidal Power Shows The Most Promise

Wave energy near coastlines is inconsistent. Sometimes it is forceful, and other times it is calm. Tides, however, move with much more consistency due to their relationship with the moon’s gravity and the Earth’s rotation. The consistent energy provided by tidal stream energy can provide a reliable backup for wind and solar energy.

To find the best tidal currents for energy harvest, scientists have started deploying drones to locate and measure tidal currents. This approach costs less money and gathers data quickly compared to sending costly ships and crews out to sea.

U.S. Government Approves Wave Energy Lease By Oregon

In the United States, the PacWave project from the Oregon State University has received a lease from the federal government to build an experimental system 7 miles off the coast. The Oregon coast experiences strong waves and provides a strenuous testing ground for wave energy generators.

Because wave energy could power coastal cities in the future, it could revitalize coastal industrial centers that previously relied on fossil fuels. Do you think that ocean wave energy will eventually play a primary role in meeting global energy needs?

ABOUT Orbital Marine Power

Everyone at Orbital Marine Power shares the same motivations. We want to play our part in tackling climate change, improving air quality and supporting the global transition away from fossil fuels.  Orbital Marine Power is a privately held company with offices in Orkney and Edinburgh.

Orbital’s unique floating platform is moored via anchors in powerful tidal streams or river currents. Underwater rotors capture the dense flowing energy.  We are passionate about our technology, and about evolving it, so that we can reach more people, communities and businesses with lower-cost clean energy.

That’s our goal and our vision.


Pacwave is a globally recognized, open-ocean wave energy test facility based at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. It consists of two test sites, Pacwave North and South, located in close proximity to the deep-water commercial port of Newport, Oregon. Pacwave is affiliated with the Pacific Marine Energy Center – a consortium of universities focused on the responsible advancement of marine energy, including wave, tidal, riverine, and offshore wind resources.

Approximately one-third of the US annual electricity usage could potentially be generated from waves and tidal currents, and 80% of that is estimated to be along the outer continental shelf. Ocean waves are relatively constant and are increasingly predictable.

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