Harvesting energy from the ocean in India has just received a shot in the arm. Ocean energy is energy harvested from the ocean in the form of tidal, wave, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTCE) etc. Recently, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Shri RK Singh has approved a proposal to declare ocean energy as Renewable Energy.
Ocean energy presents a huge opportunity in India
The total identified potential of Tidal Energy is about 12,455 MW, with potential locations identified at Khambat & Kutch regions, and large backwaters, where barrage technology could be used.
The total theoretical potential of wave energy in India along the country’s coast is estimated to be about 40,000 MW – these are preliminary estimates. This energy is, however, less intensive than what is available in more northern and southern latitudes. OTEC has a theoretical potential of 180,000 MW in India subject to suitable technological evolution.
Tidal cycles occur every 12 hours due to the gravitational force of the moon. The difference in water height from low tide and high tide is stored as potential energy and can be used to generate electricity. Similar to traditional hydropower, tidal water can be captured in a barrage across an estuary during high tide and forced through a hydro-turbine during low tide. However, to capture sufficient power from the tidal energy potential, the height of high tide must be at least five meters (16 feet) greater than low tide. The Gulf of Cambay and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat on the west coast have the locations in the country where potential exists.
Wave energy is generated by the movement of a device either floating on the surface of the ocean or moored to the ocean floor. Many different techniques for converting wave energy to electric power have been studied. Wave conversion devices that float on the surface have joints hinged together that bend with the waves. This kinetic energy pumps fluid through turbines and creates electric power. Stationary wave energy conversion devices use pressure fluctuations produced in long tubes from the waves swelling up and down. This bobbing motion drives a turbine when critical pressure is reached. Other stationary platforms capture water from waves on their platforms. This water is allowed to runoff through narrow pipes that flow through a typical hydraulic turbine.
Marine current is ocean water moving in one direction. This ocean current is known as the Gulf Stream. Tides also create currents that flow in two directions. Kinetic energy can be captured from the Gulf Stream and other tidal currents with submerged turbines that are very similar in appearance to miniature wind turbines. Similar to wind turbines, the movement of the marine current moves the rotor blades to generate electric power.
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
OTEC uses ocean temperature differences from the surface to depths lower than 1,000 meters, to extract energy. A temperature difference of only 20°C can yield usable energy. Research focuses on two types of OTEC technologies to extract thermal energy and convert it to electric power: closed cycle and open cycle. In the closed cycle method, a working fluid, such as ammonia, is pumped through a heat exchanger and vaporized. This vaporized steam runs a turbine. The cold water found at the depths of the ocean condenses the vapor back to a fluid where it returns to the heat exchanger. In the open cycle system, the warm surface water is pressurized in a vacuum chamber and converted to steam to run the turbine. The steam is then condensed using cold ocean water from lower depths.