There are 332,519,000 cubic miles of water on the planet. That's 352,670,000,000,000,000,000 gallons just sloshing around out there.
Anyone who's ridden or been tossed by a wave has a sense of the kinetic energy contained in our perpetually moving oceans. If we could harness it, it could provide a clean, renewable source of energy. But efforts to turn our oceans into power generators—often in the form of "aqua-mills," windmill technology adapted to water—have foundered on the complexity of their many moving parts in the corrosive and remote environs of the sea.
A new approach, developed by a company called Oscilla Power, applies all that kinetic energy to a solid piece of metal instead of using it to turn the blades of an impeller. That creates an alternating magnetic polarity in the metal that can be converted into electrical current.
Oscilla's technology, which is nearly solid-state, may prove far more durable than any other ocean-power project, increasing the chance to draw power from our oceans cleanly, meaningfully, and endlessly.