Surfing a wave graphic

Surfing in Hawaii is legendary, but a clean form of energy is also riding the waves.

Cross: “The potential of wave energy, in general, is exciting. I mean, we have so much population around the world close to coasts, and we have so much wave-energy resource in those same locations.”

That’s Patrick Cross, a researcher and program manager at the University of Hawaii’s Natural Energy Institute. The institute develops renewable-energy solutions that can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Using wave energy to make electricity is not a new idea. Cross says there’s enough potential energy in waves to meet a significant portion of U.S. electricity needs.

But there are significant challenges. Any device has to withstand the constant motion of the waves and the corrosion of salt water. And because the system will be underwater, it needs to be easy to maintain.

On wave energy potential: 'I feel like we're on the cusp of some impressive results.' Click To Tweet

Cross says the technology is still years away from being commercially viable, but one test project is already feeding wave energy into the power grid.

Cross: “I feel like we’re on the cusp of some impressive results.”

If the logistical and financial hurdles can be solved, wave power could one day help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Reporting credit: Daisy Simmons/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

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