10 Innovations in Hydropower

Wave Power
An electricity generator based on wave power sits off of Portugal's coast in 2008. A technical glitch forced the wave energy farm offline after two months. It used floating tubes whose bobbing motion pumped hydraulic fluid to drive generators. Joao Abreu Miranda/AFP/Getty Images

The echo of waves slamming against a rocky shore or a sandy beach is a soothing sound. Did you know that it's also an energetic sound? Kinetic energy is the energy of movement, and rushing water is brimming with it. That's because wave motion is fueled by the wind and oceanic geology [source: Union of Concerned Scientists].

Engineers and scientists have come up with a variety of devices to harness the hydrokinetic energy generated by waves. In fact, scientists say if we could extract only 15 percent of the energy along the U.S. coast (specifically the West Coast), the United States could generate as much electricity as all the hydroelectric dams in the nation [source: Union of Concerned Scientists].