Thursday, April 17, 2014

Energy from the ocean?

      One proposed concept to produce sustainable energy is to develop ocean current technology and use it to produce electricity on a commercial scale. Harnessing ocean currents for energy is appealing because they are “relatively constant” and carry “a great deal of energy because of the density of water” (Ocean 2014). Due to this characteristic, ocean currents are more effective in comparison to wind energy, as ocean currents moving “12 mph exert the same amount of force as a constant 110 mph wind” (Ocean 2014).
While “small numbers of prototype and demonstration units have been tested” ocean current technology is still in the early stages of development (Report to Congress 2009). Florida is a likely candidate for this technology because it is “estimated that taking just 1/1000th the available energy from the Gulf Stream would supply Florida with 35% of its electrical needs” (Sniderman 2012). Engineers studying currents in Florida have also been able to develop a method to easily identify locations for turbines that will lead to the greatest economic gains.
As good as it sounds; this technology will take time to develop due to multiple obstacles in its way. Mainly, a lot of time and funding for research and development will be required and spending this money elsewhere might be more beneficial to society, such as using nuclear power. Developing nuclear power may be more effective because the technology is already well understood, and we may be able to rapidly evolve its safety measures with proper funding. Ocean current technology could also be wrapped up in politics for years as it goes through the rigors of being analyzed by environmental impact assessment reports. Even after overcoming these obstacles, ocean current technology will need to become capable of being reliable and easily maintained before it becomes a cost effective option for producers and consumers.
--Garrett Grubb

No comments:

Post a Comment