Saturday, March 22, 2014

Oceans Stand to Deliver Abundant Carbon-free Energy

In 2012 Verdant Power installed hefty turbines below the surface of New York City’s East River to turn tidal energy into electrical power. (Credit: Verdant Power, Inc.) Click to enlarge.
Devices now under development in the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere generate electricity by tapping the movement of ocean waves and tides or the differences in temperature of water between an ocean’s surface and its depths.  The sector is ripe with promise, but to reach its potential, the engineers, entrepreneurs and policy-makers working to wring carbon-free electricity from moving water and thermal gradients must overcome formidable regulatory and financial barriers.

Proponents of marine hydrokinetics or ocean thermal energy conversion often note that the technologies deliver electricity that is both dependable and in the right place.  After all, waves and tides can be predicted. And humans tend to cluster near water:  Nearly 40 percent of Americans live in counties directly on a shoreline, and more than half the world’s population lives within 125 miles of a coast.

Government and academic estimates project that marine renewable energy could supply a significant share of the electricity used in coastal areas.  Assessments commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy found that “the maximum of theoretical electric generation” that could be produced from waves, tidal and riverine currents, and ocean thermal gradients in U.S. waters is 2,116 terawatt-hours annually, a little over half of the electricity consumed in the country each year.

Oceans Stand to Deliver Abundant Carbon-free Energy

No comments:

Post a Comment