Advances in Sea-Powered Energy

From Fast Company’s Co.Exist series, check out 8 of the latest advances in ocean-powered generators.  Most of the devices are being developed in Scotland, which is apparently a world leader in marine energy investment – who knew?  They’re all well beyond the design stage, with working prototypes being deployed and tested in the rough waters of the North Sea.

Blue wave cresting

courtesy Misty Bushell

They cover the full spectrum of ocean-generated power, creating electricity out of everything from tides to waves to currents.  There are a few hurdles, such as figuring out how to efficiently transfer the power to land, and how to administer maintenance.  While it’s estimated these devices won’t be operating at a commercial scale for another 2 to 3 years, they could supply as much as 10% of the UK’s power needs once online (that’s 75,000 megawatts for those of you keeping score at home).  Carbon-free and eternally renewable – how’s that for future power?

4 thoughts on “Advances in Sea-Powered Energy

  1. Some of these are already installed in the Gulf of Maine so experiments are underway to see how this works out. Just as with wind power, there are significant environmental concerns such as damage to wildlife –killing of vulnerable fish populations in the underwater turbines just like the is clear evidence of serious damage to migrating bird populations by wind mills. None of these decisions is simple or risk free.

    • I didn’t know Maine was testing such devices! Nor had I heard of the wildlife issues. I wonder if they can be overcome – perhaps something as simple as a mesh screen to keep out animals? One of the designs in the article generates energy just by bobbing up and down, which seems like it should be fairly innocuous. Whatever the case, I hope the problem is fully addressed before the technology is brought to scale.

      Anyone else familiar with these issues? Please chime in.

  2. I’ve read some about this and as Mary mentioned above, the risk to the environment was mentioned each time. Whether this is less environmentally friendly than current energy production sources (i.e. oil), I’m not sure. This is why I’m such a fan of solar…but I’m also a fan of anything that shows potential to rid us of oil dependence. In any case, this is interesting and is progress IMHO. Definitely something to keep an eye on. Thanks for sharing Scott!

    • I’m with you, I prefer the energy sources that don’t kill anything. But if the choice was between oil and tides… I don’t know what I would do. Oil certainly kills its fair share of animals, too, in addition to its other disadvantages. Ultimately we should probably explore as many options as possible, since there’s no universal solution.

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