Monday, March 07, 2011

Wave power energy anyone?

This news this morning about a new wave power buoy by U.K.'s Birmingham is unlikely to be picked up by mainstream news reporters:

At 135ft long and weighing 250 tonnes the PB150 PowerBuoy device, created by Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), has a peak-rated power output of 150kW – equivalent to the energy consumption of approximately 150 homes.

Here's a picture of an OPT PowerBuoy, probably an early version, that was deployed at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH) at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu according this well prepared article in San Clemente Times entitled "A New Wave" by Andrea Swayne a few days ago.

Swayne's article provided well researched reasons why wave power development has encountered so much resistence in general:
Most agree that new, renewable, green sources of energy are a good thing and those living near the coast are well acquainted with the potential energy of ocean waves and currents. Producing electricity by harnessing wave power seems like a no-brainer. After all, hydro-electricity from rivers and dams has long been a viable source of renewable energy. But some fear that taking this technology to the ocean could have potentially devastating effects on the fishing industry by making coastal waters off-limits as well as pose hazards to the environment by endangering sea life.
Anglers are not the only groups concerned about a lack of communication to stakeholders and what this could mean for our coastline.

Environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club and the Surfrider Foundation also have concerns related to the proposed wave farm with regard to possible harmful effects on sea life—mainly potential harm to sharks and marine mammals caused by electrical fields.
One can not fault the concerns of these special interest groups. But these are just some of the reasons why it always seems that the U.S. is totally uninterested in wave power technology in the first place.

Recently a professor from Spain who started working on wave energy with their new Spanish government funding asked me what project has U.S. been working on. I can only told him that the U.S. does not seem to be interested in wave energy. Next time when I see him again, I'll be able to explain to him the reason why!

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