What is an Oscillating water column?


    An oscillating water column uses a large volume of moving water as a piston in a cylinder. Air is forced out of the column as a wave rises and fresh air is drawn in as the wave falls. This movement of air turns a weir turbine at the top of the column.

Wave Potential

    Deep water wave power resources are truly enormous, between 1 TW and 10 TW, but it is not practical to capture all of this. The useful worldwide resource has been estimated to be greater than 2 TW. Locations with the most potential for wave power include the western seaboard of Europe, the northern coast of the UK, and the Pacific coastlines of North and South America, Southern Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The north and south temperate zones have the best sites for capturing wave power. The prevailing westerlies in these zones blow strongest in winter. Waves are very predictable; waves that are caused by winds can be predicted five days in advance.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Wave Power

    -Low maintenance
    -No greenhouse gases release
    -Initial building cost
    -Could be considered an eye sore


    -Moving parts are housed outside of the water for a greater lifetime of the material.
    -Can be built near shore for easy access to the power grid and for maintainance.
University of Wisconsin Madison
CEE 514: Final Project
By: Nicole Johnson & Eric Olson
Copyright 2010