The oceans cover 70% of the surface of the earth and are in constant motion. Tides, gravity, solar heating, and wind create the constant activity in the oceans, and provide a very promising source of renewable energy. Tidal energy and wave power are fairly far along in development. Ocean thermocline energy, or OTEC, which depends on a large temperature gradient in ocean waters off islands has been under study for decades, but is less developed than tidal and wave power generation.
Power generation from tidal energy is a rapidly developing form of renewable energy generation. Among the current tidal power plants under development is Russia's Rushydro investment in the Northern Tidal Power Plant near Murmansk Oblast, which is located on the Barents Sea coast. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2010 in the Dolgaya-Vostochnaya Bay, west of Murmansk. The nearby Kolskaya Tidal power Plant is also scheduled to come online in 2010. Built in 1968, another experimental tidal energy plant near Murmansk received a new power generator in 2006.
Wave power is well-suited for western coastlines with a history of fast, pounding waves. One top example is in the Isle of Islay, Scotland, where WaveGen constructed the first commercial wave power plant, which has so far clocked more than 50,000 generating hours. The Islay plant was commissioned in 2000 and now works as a demonstration plant for a new generation of turbines. WaveGen's record has allowed availability of power from renewable energy that is fast approaching levels achieved by conventional power generation.
Jobs created by an increase in tidal and marine energy generation will include many types of engineers:
- Control and Instrumentation
- Rivers and Coastal
Other jobs in potentially high demand include:
- Electrical designers
- Marine Ecologists
- Hydraulic modelers
As new tidal and marine energy installations go online, installation, service and maintenance workers will be needed, and those with skill and experience in diving and working underwater will likely be highly sought after.