Why Wave and Tidal Power Are Lost At Sea — It's Darn Expensive

Despite many companies’ best efforts, wave and tidal power installations have been largely stuck in the pilot stage — bigger projects in particular have faced technical glitches and a lack of funding. Tom Konrad over on AltEnergyStocks points out research done last year showing ocean power’s most vulnerable point: It’s one of the most expensive clean energy generation options out there.

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That’s according to a study developed last year by infrastructure consulting firm Black and Veatch (B&V) for the California Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative, a state initiative focused on research to build transmission lines for clean power. The report says that within California specifically, wave and marine current power generation can cost as much as $445 per MWH and $410 per MWH, respectively. Other renewables like wind, solid biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal have clean energy generation costs nearing $150 per MWH. It’s not ground-breaking info, but the chart shows how stark the difference is between ocean power and other forms of clean power generation.

Ocean power is a popular idea, given there’s so much available ocean space. Politicians like San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (including via an editorial on our site) have written about how we should invest more in ocean power to “[H]elp secure our future prosperity, create thousands of new jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” and suggested federal policies to boost the industry. I’m all for helping usher along a technology that has the potential to drop in price, but the cost of ocean power should definitely factor into how much federal support this industry gets.