Thursday, May 6, 2010
Like everybody else over the past week I've been watching news and reading reports about the disastrous leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. It seems to me the whole idea of drilling in sea beds is the worst solution to our energy problems the resource exploiters have come up with yet and they really have devised and implemented some rotten ones. I probably don't have to give you any for instances to make the point.
Anyway, it seems to me while they're down there trying to divert the gusher into their silly looking but hopefully not ineffective containment device we'd all be better off if they were considering using the ocean waves themselves to generate power rather than having powerful waves drive oil into areas that are ecologically vulnerable. Covering more than 70% of the Earth's surface, the ocean is the world's largest untapped, renewable energy resource. From what I've read I've been able to understand that experts believe 0.2% of the ocean's untapped energy could power the entire world. What a deal that would be.
Human beings have been practicing ocean power technologies for many years (hundreds or perhaps thousands if we take sailing into account) and understand the principles of hydrodynamics as well as mechanical and electrical engineering. Ocean energy is an abundant, predictable and renewable resource, guaranteed to deliver high output pretty much forever. It's also non-polluting and doesn't contribute to global warming.
Three quarters of the world's electricity needs are met by burning fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas, methods that generate vast quantities of greenhouse gasses. Hydropower is fine but damming rivers has nasty side effects for people and ecosystems. Wind power and solar are fine alternatives but so far haven't provided a significant dent in current energy needs and there are problems too with land use.
Portugal was participating in a project designed to provide a significant percentage of their electricity from wave power using Pelamis generators. Unfortunately, the economic downturn left them without funds to revise and extend the system but I enjoyed seeing this video of it in action.
I rather like the Anaconda. . an entertaining way to ride the waves to say the least. Besides, it's time for something more productive than huge oil spills and all the rest. We really can do better as a species.