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Tidal Waves Harnessed as Green Energy





earth9
Today, when the effects of global warming can be seen in all corners of the world, climate change has become a major concern for everyone, and the burning of fossil fuels such as coal to generate electricity is a major contributor to the environmental crisis. Coal-fired power generators produce vast amounts of carbon dioxide gas. In the US alone, 40 percent of total carbon emissions come from these plants. However, numerous green, sustainable power sources that do not harm the Earth are currently available. One such sustainable technology is “Tidal-kinetic power,” a process that some countries are already developing or using.

For example, the Finnish company AW-Energy recently developed a tidal-energy device called the WaveRoller, which relies on the energy of underwater sea waves to generate electricity. The inspiration for this green technology came in 1993 when the company’s founder and professional diver Rauno Koivusaari was diving in the Baltic Sea at the site of a shipwreck. As he explored the ship, he was nearly hit by a door on the vessel that was opening and closing due to the movement of the underwater waves. Viewing this phenomenon led Mr. Koivusaari to wonder if energy produced by the force of underwater ocean waves could be harnessed, and his curiosity led to the creation of AW-Energy.

AW-Energy’s approach employs the “bottom wave phenomenon” or the movement of water under the ocean’s surface. To do this WaveRollers or plates bolted onto the sea floor move back and forth, with the force of the waves producing energy which is then collected by a piston pump and converted to electricity by a generator on land.

According to the company, WaveRollers differ from other technologies attempting to harness ocean wave power in that they are out-of-sight, create no noise pollution and are less affected by storms. AW-Energy also states that the parts and materials used to construct WaveRollers do not harm the environment. For instance, vegetable-derived oil is used for the hydraulic components of this innovative tidal energy-generation system. Another advantage is that additional plates can be added with little trouble and they are relatively cheap to install.

Currently, the company is conducting tests off the coast of Peniche, Portugual with the ultimate aim of creating a 10-megawatt plant powered by WaveRollers in Portugal’s waters within the next two years. Regarding his company’s approach, AW-Energy’s CEO Mr. Tuomo Hyysalo says, “It has been estimated that wave energy has the potential to contribute up to 10 percent of the entire need for electricity globally without any CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the near-shore bottom waves that WaveRoller utilizes are a ubiquitous resource with prominent sites available throughout ocean shorelines.”

The UK is another country taking advantage of this everlasting supply of clean energy. A UK-based company, Marine Current Turbines Limited (MCT) is in the process of installing its unique 1.2-megawatt Seagen tidal-energy-utilization system in Stangford Lough off the coast of Northern Ireland. The system consists of twin 20-meter-wide turbines mounted on a vertical axis planted in the sea bed. The tidal speed in the area causes the turbines to rotate from 10 to 20 times per minute, which experts say will not affect marine animals. The project was scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2008, and if successful the company plans to build tidal-energy-generating farms off the UK’s coast in hopes of eventually meeting 15 to 20 percent of the country’s needs through this clean technology. As a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol the UK has now passed laws to ensure that adequate steps are taken to reduce global warming.

Another tidal kinetic energy project across the Atlantic in New York, USA, Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE), is already generating 1,000 kilowatts of clean energy daily. RITE is purported to be the world’s first free-flow tidal kinetic power generator. The project is still in the test phases but upon completion it is hoped that a total of 200 turbines will be installed on the bed of the East River to eventually generate 10 megawatts of electricity for New York City residents. The goal is for at least 25 percent of the city’s energy to come from tidal energy by the year 2013.

During this crucial period of climate change due to human-generated global warming, it is essential that we use all resources available to reduce CO2 emissions. Of course to accomplish this humans need to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels for energy, so we need to start using alternate sustainable green energy sources to generate electricity. Many such energy sources exist but it is up to us as consumers to write to our power companies and demand that they be used. We can also write to local government representatives and ask them to implement more environmental initiatives. The solutions to global warming are already here but they need to be implemented on a large scale by all governments and countries around the world. So let’s make our voices heard and produce change before it’s too late.
Jinx
You know, I can't help but wonder...

And don't get me wrong, here. I'm 100% for finding clean sources of energy, and I think that using wave and wind power is a great idea, but...

If we build too many wind farms or tidal power stations will we be affecting our climate adversely in another way? You don't get energy for nothing. By creating a huge underwater generation station we would be creating resistance against the tides we are harnessing, and slowing them down as a consequence. Similarly with huge windmill farms, we would be slowing down the wind.
The winds and currents are what drive our climate and weather patterns. How will removing that energy from the environment affect the way our weather moves?

For example, the Pickens plan proposes using the vast prairie wind corridor through the center of the United States as a source of energy by building many wind farms. The energy used to turn all those wind turbines will slow down the wind by a corresponding amount. Storms and weather systems move (predominantly) from west to east across the US. Would slower wind speeds mean slower moving storms, dumping all of their rain over the plains and causing droughts in the Eastern part of the country?

What about the tides? If we slow the tides down by harvesting their energy, what would that mean for the distribution of floating plankton, the primary food source for most ocean habitats? How would it affect the major currents, like the Gulf Stream that Great Britain relies upon for it's relatively warm climate?

I'm sure there would be similar cooling effects if too much of our sunlight is harvested by solar power stations but the thermodynamics involved is outside my area of knowledge (perhaps someone more informed than I could weigh in on this aspect?).

Small wind farms or tidal power stations wouldn't be a problem. The amount of energy they harvest would be negligible in the greater scheme of things... but what happens if we take it too far? What happens if we harvest too much of the energy that drives our climate?
ocalhoun
earth9 wrote:

During this crucial period of climate change due to human-generated global warming, it is essential that we use all resources available to reduce CO2 emissions.

Ach, all this hype about global warming. Even if it is true, it is not a big deal. The Earth's temperatures will fluctuate a bit over a very long period of time, but still stay within bounds set by previous climate changes. Nearly everything should be able to adapt to the changing climate just fine. Meanwhile, much worse and more urgent threats are lost in global warming's shadow.
Jinx wrote:


If we build too many wind farms or tidal power stations will we be affecting our climate adversely in another way? You don't get energy for nothing. By creating a huge underwater generation station we would be creating resistance against the tides we are harnessing, and slowing them down as a consequence. Similarly with huge windmill farms, we would be slowing down the wind.
The winds and currents are what drive our climate and weather patterns. How will removing that energy from the environment affect the way our weather moves?


We could probably have far more energy than we needed and only effect wind currents and tides in barely measurable amounts. Compared to the needs of humans, the energies that drive the winds and tides are huge.
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