Living in Minnesota, I never developed a talent for surfing. But I appreciate the sport, even as I understand that it's best left to the professionals. In light of Ocean Power Technologies' (NASDAQ:OPTT) recent IPO, and the subsequent 26% plunge in its shares, I've begun to draw the same conclusion about the emerging field of power generation via the motion of the ocean. Fools, it may be best to let someone else catch this wave.

For starters, as fellow Fool Tom Taulli pointed out last week, Ocean Power faces between 20 and 30 other competitors. Finavera Renewables, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under FVR, particularly bears watching, after announcing this week that it had received a key regulatory permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a proposed 100-megawatt wave energy project in Oregon. (Ocean Power, for the record, received a similar permit earlier this year but for only a 50MW proposed project.)

And on Monday, across the Atlantic Ocean, the British government approved a $43 million investment in a large-scale wave farm. The consortium consists of three companies, with a fourth expected to be added soon. While that group does include Ocean Power, WestWave and Ocean Power Delivery are also members. The latter is a private company partly backed by General Electric (NYSE:GE).

In short, there's abundant activity in the field of wave power. Aside from determining which company's technology is the best, the nascent industry faces a barrage of regulatory issues. Like every other alternative energy source to date, it's also still reliant on government subsidies to compete with more traditional forms of energy. In my opinion, relying on the whims of bureaucrats and politicians is never a good thing.

Unless you're an industry professional who really understands all of these issues, I'd advise you to watch wave power from the safety of the shore. It might not be as fun, but it could keep you from ending up with seaweed in your hair and several handfuls worth of sand in your shorts.

Interested in clean tech-related foolishness? Check out these articles:

Our Motley Fool Rule Breakers team seeks alternative energy stocks with explosive growth potential. See what they've found thus far with a free 30-day trial.

Fool contributor Jack Uldrich owns stock in GE. The Fool has a strict disclosure policy.