Sunday, October 07, 2007

Alternate energy - Tides and waves

There is no shortage of energy. The Earth is bombarded by energy every day - from the Sun. We just have to devise and perfect ways to convert that energy into forms we can use.

Alternate energy sources have been used since prehistoric times. Windmills to drive mills; water power; sailing ships. And more recent developments - wind-generated electricity and hydroelectric power.

Scientists and entrepreneurs and getting closer to harnessing the energy of the ocean tides and from the waves caused by wind. Good for them. We don't know how long oil, natural gas and coal will be available. And there might be environmental benefits as well. The Seattle Times reports, first tides:
The future of clean power in the Northwest may look like the 75-foot-tall yellow buoy now bobbing like a cork in the waves off the Oregon coast.

Or maybe it will more closely resemble a gargantuan red snake, riding the swells and capturing their energy. It might even take the form of underwater sails rigged to tap the power of the tides.

Each design is a horse in the race to wring kilowatts from the restless motion of the sea — and make money doing it. Several of the contenders will be tested in the waters off Washington and Oregon in the coming months and years, as inventors and entrepreneurs jockey for dominance in a field so new some compare it to aviation in the era of the Wright brothers.

"It's the Kitty Hawk days for tidal energy," said Craig Collar, of the Snohomish County Public Utility District, which already has permits for trial runs in several Puget Sound straits famed for their rushing tides.
And wind waves:
Over Labor Day weekend, a Canadian company deployed the first wave-energy buoy on the West Coast, anchoring it about 2 ½ miles off Newport, Ore. Researchers from Oregon State University plan to deploy a different type of buoy in the same part of the Pacific Ocean this week.

The Corvallis-based college, already the country's top academic center for wave-power research, also is building a national wave-energy research and demonstration facility off the coast and an indoor lab to simulate ocean conditions.

Companies that use the demonstration facility will be able to deploy their devices in ocean "berths" equipped with moorings and instruments to measure power output and collect other data, said OSU engineering professor Annette von Jouanne.

"We want to advance wave-energy technology, encourage companies to demonstrate their devices and ... promote Oregon as an optimal location," she said.


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