"There is a vast amount of untapped energy in the oceans, and with increasing worldwide demand for power, the need to find cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels is critical," said UC Berkeley Engineer Reza Alam. "We are also seeing greater population growth along coastal cities, so the ocean-based system we are developing would produce electricity in a carbon-neutral way right where it is needed."

The researcher estimated that one square meter of carpet could capture enough electricity to power two U.S. households. A wave energy installation at a depth of about 60 feet that takes up 100 square meters of California coastline could generate the same amount of power as a solar installation of about 6,400 square meters, the researcher speculated.