Why is the Wave and Tidal Energy Market Still Lagging Behind?

The global wave and tidal energy market will expand at a remarkable CAGR of 64.10% during the forecast period from 2014 to 2020. Although the CAGR of the global wave and tidal energy market will be remarkable, this market is still lagging behind other alternative energy markets such as wind and solar. By 2020, the global wave and tidal energy market is projected to be worth US$10.1 bn. On the other hand, by 2020, the global solar power market is projected to be worth more than US$130 bn.

Waves and tidal forces have enormous potential for energy generation. In spite of this, the global wave and tidal energy market is lagging behind significantly as compared to the solar power market due to various reasons. The energy density of wave energy is generally around 30-40 kW for every 2.2 feet of waves along the shore. This energy density increases further from the shore and into the ocean, where an energy density of 100 kW for every meter is not rare.


This shows how massive the potential of wave and tidal power is. However, there are many factors that will continue to restrain the global wave and tidal energy market. Let us look at these in detail.

Complexity of Harnessing Wave Power

One of the key challenges to the global wave and tidal energy market is the complexity of harnessing wave power. This has led to a host of designs such as bobbing buoys and attenuators. Some of these devices generate electricity on the spot and transfer it through undersea cables to the shore, while other devices pass the mechanical energy generated by the waves to land before turning it into electrical energy. Many devices are being used to harness electricity in the global wave and tidal energy market; however, there has not been a clear winner among them yet.

Cost Issues

The global wave and tidal energy market is still at a nascent stage, making it difficult to come up with the right costs. The cost for different projects is different, as factors such as wave resources, the lifespan of the technology, and connection to the main power grid need to be considered. Among these factors, the lifespan of the technology is the most uncertain, as this is a relatively new technology. At present, the costs of wave and tidal power are very high, which is further suppressing the global wave and tidal energy market.

Environmental Effects

Being at a nascent stage, the impact of global wave and tidal energy market development on sea life is still not clear. More data is required to evaluate this. Furthermore, wave power farms off shore being visible from land can lead to conflicts with the tourism sector. Hence, coastal installations on land or in shallow sea need to pass higher restrictions in terms of size on location.


The enormous potential of wave and tidal energy has been established by many studies. However, as the market is still in its early stages of development, it faces the aforesaid three key challenges. Nevertheless, the rising number of favorable government policies and incentive schemes is projected to drive the global wave and tidal energy market significantly in the foreseeable future.

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