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Giant Snake-Shaped Generators Could Capture Wave Power

timothy posted more than 6 years ago

Power 432

Roland Piquepaille writes "UK researchers have developed a prototype of a future giant rubber tube which could catch energy from sea waves. The device, dubbed Anaconda, uses 'long sea waves to excite bulge waves which travel along the wall of a submersed rubber tube. These are then converted into flows of water passing through a turbine to generate electricity.' So far, the experiments have been done with tubes with diameters of 0.25 and 0.5 meters. But if the experiments are successful, future full-scale Anaconda devices would be 200 meters long and 7 meters in diameter, and deployed in water depths of between 40 and 100 meters. An Anaconda would deliver an output power of 1MW (enough to power 2,000 houses). These devices would be deployed in groups of 20 or even more providing cheap electricity without harming our environment."

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say that again? (5, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078789)

'long sea waves to excite bulge waves which travel along the wall of a submersed rubber tube. These are then converted into flows of water passing through a turbine to generate electricity.'

and called the anaconda?

i don't know if this scheme will work, but hands down, that is the most sexual innuendo i've heard in an energy generation scheme in a long time

Re:say that again? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078813)

'long sea waves to excite bulge waves which travel along the wall of a submersed rubber tube. These are then converted into flows of water passing throughÂa turbine to generate electricity.'

and called the anaconda?

i don't know if this scheme will work, but hands down, that is the most sexual innuendo i've heard in an energy generation scheme in a long time

Re:say that again? (2, Funny)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078853)

i don't know if this scheme will work, but hands down, that is the most sexual innuendo i've heard in an energy generation scheme in a long time

You should have seen the write up in The Register (AKA Vulture Central) on this.

Re:say that again? (1)

ya really (1257084) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079655)

You should have seen the write up in The Register (AKA Vulture Central) on this.

Would you care to share the link?

Baby got back (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078815)

and called the anaconda?

My anaconda don't want none
Unless you've got buns, hon

Re:Baby got back (4, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079767)

Thank God someone finally gave Sir Mix-a-Lot [wikipedia.org] the long overdue credit he richly deserves as a true environmentalist, humanitarian, and supporter of renewable bun energy extraction technologies. It's about time we broke the oil cartels' blockage on innovation and hooked up generators to all those pulsating rumps!

I say, let them do all the side bends and situps they want, since the calories expending in diminishing that rump will surely guide us into a new era of plentiful energy for all.

Re:Baby got back (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079893)

Unless you got some realistic way of producing the energy required without a dependence on coal then I think you need to shut the fuck up.

This technology maybe something which could be useful unlike the useless technologies of the past such as solar which cost too much and don't produce enough.

Re:say that again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078817)

"My anaconda don't want none unless you got buns hun"

Wow that was a great song.

Re:say that again? (1)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078883)

My anaconda don't want none unless you got long sea waves, hun. Baby got turbines!

Re:say that again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079003)

I think you just weren't as horny when you read about other technologies. Go jack off and when you come back everything will sound normal again.

Not So Funny: Threshold of Renewable Resources (5, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079231)

In the long run, the only readily available sources of energy are renewable sources: solar energy and terrestrial energy (e.g., wind and waves). Each person consumes a minimum amount of energy to live, and the aggregate amount consumed by the entire population cannot exceed some fraction of total renewable energy. The reason for the fraction is that no conversion process (for, say, transforming solar energy into electrical energy) is 100% efficient. (A while ago, some genius in the SlashDot forums gave an explicit number for the "fraction".)

Right now, the sky-high price for oil is useful in reminding us that there are limits to our resources. If we do not make a conscientious effort to control population growth, then nature will impose a solution on us. That solution will be poverty and likely starvation. If you doubt what I say, consider the huge amounts of energy that is needed to grow and to transport food.

Right now, I suspect that our population is unsustainably large due to the fact that we still have plentiful supplies of non-renewable sources (e.g., oil and uranium). So, our energy consumption = (1) usuable energy from non-renewable sources + (2) usuable energy from renewable sources. After #1 is depleted by roughly 2100 (?), a global world war for resources will dwarf the calamity of World War II. (By the way, we will deplete our mineral resources like copper and iron ore long before we deplete our non-renewable sources of energy.)

Will humankind wake up to the problem of overpopulation? In the USA, political correctness prevents us from dealing with the problem. The American mantra is that (1) expanding the population is always wonderful and (2) expanding the population by immigration is the best route.

renewables are boutique (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079393)

just go nuclear and conserve

going nuclear should give us enough time to figure out fusion. and if we don't, it's curtains

but renewables: geothermal, wind, tidal, etc... it's all tiny fractions of demand

except for solar. but that's a huge infrastructure outlay

nuclear is the best option before us to kick our hydrocarbon habit

Re:Not So Funny: Threshold of Renewable Resources (4, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079467)

Where "long run" means a thousand years, yes. Why are we looking that far forward anyway? Whaats the point about saying we have too many people while new methods of energy generation are constantly being built?

While solar power in all forms is the only thing we know has a high probability of being around in a billion years, nuclear power will last us, at the least, 300 years. Even the pessimists can agree that we'll have nuclear fusion within 200 years. So thats it! nuclear fusion until nuclear fission is sorted out. All of man's energy needs in a simple two step plan!

poverty! global war! starvation! calamity! our population is unsustainable!

will you please stop mongering fear and get realistic!? And don't event start with the "nuclear waste" blather because nuclear power can safely generate enough energy to make chemicals to launch all waste into the sun and have all the energy we'll need left over!

Re:Not So Funny: Threshold of Renewable Resources (5, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079641)

enough energy to make chemicals to launch all waste into the sun and have all the energy we'll need left over!

Will you please stop with this "nuclear waste" blather? "Nuclear waste" is just "nuclear fuel that we're too lame to recycle yet".

Re:Not So Funny: Threshold of Renewable Resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079485)

Will humankind wake up to the problem of overpopulation?

No because it doesn't exist.

Re:Not So Funny: Threshold of Renewable Resources (3, Interesting)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079515)

The American mantra is that (1) expanding the population is always wonderful and (2) expanding the population by immigration is the best route.

Hmmm, is that why the population density in the US is so much lower [wikipedia.org] than in most of the rest of the world? Wait, I'm confused.

I'd say that most likely, we're best off pursuing fusion power with all the resources we have at our disposal. In the end, solar power is the same thing, hydrogen fusion. But the difference is, we can (in principle) get much more power out of fusing terrestrial hydrogen ourselves than the total incoming flux from the sun. We won't run out of terrestrial hydrogen for plenty long enough that we'll be able to build something approaching a Dyson sphere in time to keep our available power on a steady rise.

Re:Not So Funny: Threshold of Renewable Resources (1)

HeroreV (869368) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079647)

After #1 is depleted by roughly 2100 (?), a global world war for resources will dwarf the calamity of World War II.

Sounds more like the plot for a bad movie than a realistic expectation of future events.

Re:Not So Funny: Threshold of Renewable Resources (4, Interesting)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079725)

We're not over-populated. Take every single living person on this earth. All 6.6 billion. Stick them on the land mass of Texas only (none of the lakes or rivers). You'll have lower population density than greater New York City and most of the European capitals.

Now take the remaining farmland in the US, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Don't convert an acre of forest, park, or city. No mountains, or prairies. Only the existing farmland. You can grow enough food for everyone (via a vegetarian diet).

Now take the fresh water outflow of the Columbia river - the river separating Washington from Oregon. You've got 27 gallons of fresh water per person per day.

Now put 700 nuclear plants in the deserts of Nevada. You have enough power for everyone to live at the energy consumption level of the US.

Go do the research, you'll see this all to be true. We could support every single person on the face of the earth within 40% of the North American continent. No one on any other continent, island, or waterway.

There aren't too many people; the issue is distribution of the resources. That is a political - not scientific - problem. We could feed the world and provide fresh water for everyone, if we could get countries to agree.

And note that it is almost always the country that would benefit that restricts the offer of aid. Think Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Turkmenistan, North Korea. Those countries are stricken with poverty because of the G8 or the first world; they are stricken because twisted, maniacal leaders are power-drunk.

Overpopulated? Not by a long shot. Poor distribution? Sure. The solution is to encourage free and expanded trade - and in some cases like Zimbabwe and Myanmar - a few well placed bullets. Economic growth is required to free more people.

And when there's more people with freedom and no longer having to worry about their next meal, or their next drink of water, you'll find a lot more participation in solving other big problems facing the world.

Sounds interesting (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078793)

And has a fairly small footprint for a 20 Megawatt solution - might be a good fit for small to moderate coastal towns.

I just want to see the boat captain who wanders unknowingly into a field of these things at night. Snakes on a boat!

Re:Sounds interesting (5, Insightful)

nfk (570056) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079023)

Well, if the boat captain finds himself at 40 to 100 meters depth, he has other things to worry about.

Re:Sounds interesting (3, Funny)

JanneM (7445) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079071)

"Well, if the boat captain finds himself at 40 to 100 meters depth, he has other things to worry about."

Snakes on a Submarine! Extended, Elongated Edition! Immensely Increased Inadvertent Innuendo! Alliterations Aplenty!! With a Thousand Elephants!!!

trawlers (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079417)

If the captain was elsewhere working and the trawler was on autopilot, snagging a field of those things in your nets would rip the rigging off completely and probably capsize the boat from the stern before he had time to react and reverse engines. Modern fishing boats are like big tractors, huge engines and big props designed to pull hard, and they will. As soon as they reach whatever big anchor point is there for the turbines, the bow will lift severely, then either the whole rigging will go or they sink, just pulled over backwards more or less. A lot of fishing boats have had similar misfortune when they snagged submarines in unexpected places. Of course, I would expect them to have lit buoys and so on above the turbines, and have it marked on charts, but weird stuff still happens in the oceans. I remember a close one one day when we hit some unmarked coral heads on what was supposed to be pretty flat mud bottom, Yikes! Reality changed fast, luckily the chunks of coral broke off before stuff tore up bad or we flipped. Still tore the nets up bad. You just never know, there's sea laws and theory, then practice. One night I was catnapping in between drags, first mate yells out "get up, get ready to jump!" An unlit freighter had crossed our path, she didn't see us, we didn't see her, we scraped down her side, pressure wave kept us from being really damaged. Like two feet more our way we would have been smashed. Not a huge distance in the ocean.

Stuff just happens in the oceans and mass quantities of submerged and hidden anchored up things would be a menace without a lot of warnings of various kinds posted. Nowadays I guess you'd have GPS doing a lot of it, back then we had about zilch besides some ancient loran and mark 1 eyeballs.

Re:Sounds interesting (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079401)

I dunno - seems a bit big for that 20MW - it's only, what, 4 5MW wind turbines...?

I'm in the UK, and I remember the register having an article about an energy study a physics professor did, but I can't find it now - can anyone help? I'd really like to read it again...

Re:Sounds interesting (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079753)

The advantage is that ocean waves are continuous and unending. The wind has a pesky habit of dying down occasionally...

Re:Sounds interesting (3, Interesting)

Keill (920526) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079871)

I know and understand that - but something that size for just 1MW seems a waste of engineering/manufacturing to me...

Like the guy in the study said - (which I'd REALLY like to find) - a(some) 40GW nuclear plant(s) is(are) a very hard system to match - although some wind/solar/tidal will help, it still makes sense to use the most efficient system, (and this doesn't sound like it - only 1MW per object) - (though linking to solar power in the sahara is still the best technical solution - the best 'political', however, is, of course, another matter, which is where nuclear comes in).

According to the study - (if I remember) - using all the available space in the UK for wind turbines and some offshore too, along with some tidal etc. STILL didn't produce enough power - I think we need a least a hundred GW, (or 2?), if I remember correctly, and this sort of system, along with wind turbines simply doesn't produce anywhere near enough power for national use...

Re:Sounds interesting (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079855)

The summary says 1MW will power 2000 homes -- is 500W/house a reasonable number? That's less than a single electric space heater. I hope they're not using that number in their scaling estimates!

One possible problem (4, Insightful)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078795)

I didn't see anything in TFA, but one wonders if they've considered sediment buildup around the device. Do they have some way to keep sand/sediment from burying the machine?

Re:One possible problem (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078917)

Looking at http://anacond.neuf.fr/ it doesn't look like it's supposed to be on the oceanfloor but sort of floating in the water. Besides the constant motion from which it's supposed to create the energy would likely keep the sand off aswell.

Re:One possible problem (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078987)

Sweet! That not only answers my question, but looks like a hella good plan.

Re:One possible problem (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078935)

That was my first thought. It could be that they plan for a degree of relative portability, and would simply dredge it up and move it when sediment became too thick.

Re:One possible problem (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079103)

A much better version of this article can be found on the New Scientist website:

http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/dn14258-giant-rubber-snake-could-be-the-future-of-wave-power.html?feedId=online-news_rss20 [newscientist.com]

The 'Anaconda' seems to float in the air and also have some sort of filter/covering to prevent marine life wandering into into b accident.

Re:One possible problem (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079207)

A full-scale device should produce 1 megawatt - enough to power around 200 houses.

Which article is right? Is it 200 houses or 2000? Both sound wrong to me. 2000 is way to much, that would be .5kW per house (minus energy loss during transportation/transformations), but 200 sounds a little low unless everyone is plugging in a Prius at night.

Re:One possible problem (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079227)

From the Anaconda website:

Typically in the north Atlantic, a tube 7m in diameter and 150m long would collect an average power over the year of about one megawatt.

The articles talk about 200m in length, the website talks about 150m in length.

Re:One possible problem (2, Insightful)

PinkPanther (42194) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079571)

My concern is more for the effects of taking away that energy from the coastline. Build up enough of these things and I'm sure they begin to affect tides, beaches, marine life, etc.

Re:One possible problem (4, Interesting)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079703)

One important factor there is whether or not energy at the coastline is beneficial, harmful, or neutral to the coastline (and the marine life there). If a reduction in energy has a neutral effect on marine life and reduces erosion, a reduction of energy may actually be a good thing.

Re:One possible problem (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079697)

I didn't see anything in TFA, but one wonders if they've considered sediment buildup around the device. Do they have some way to keep sand/sediment from burying the machine?

TFA indicated that the anacondas were a sealed system, anchored just below the surface, in relatively deep waters. Given that I don't think there will be too much sediment. The moving bulge wave should prevent buildup of other marine life as well. It may still suffer from exposure though since it needs to anchored rather shallowly, and it will be a marine navigation hazard.

Oh, and it's bound to screw up some sea turtle's migratory or nesting pattern or something like that and die on the vine.

It's about time (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078809)

I saw this yesterday, and using nature to generate energy is absolutely right. Think outside the paradigm, generate energy everywhere, use less of it everywhere... this is the solution, no single answer will work, it takes all efforts and answers. Anywhere the universe creates energy, we should be able to harness and use it. This is the grail, holy or not, energy for nothing.... or close to that.

Re:It's about time (1)

giminy (94188) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079107)

This is the grail, holy or not, energy for nothing.... or close to that.

Except that this will cause extra megawatts of tidal drag on the earth from the moon, slowing our rotation more quickly, lengthening our days more quickly, and quite possibly contributing to global climate change in a slightly different way than the one that we are used to thinking about.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for alternative energy like this (even tidal). It'll likely help more than it hurts. Everything has a price, though.

Re:It's about time (2, Insightful)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079175)

Yeah, uhm, listen. You moving around causes a slight drag on the moon. The incredibly minute change in distribution of the Earth's mass thanks to civilization has changed the orbit of the moon. Sending satellites and people into space has altered the rate of rotation of the Earth.

And yet, she still moves and we're all ok.

You've obviously never run the numbers on how many waves we'd have to stop, how much mass we'd have to move in order to affect the Earth or the Moon in a detrimental way.

Re:It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079499)

no single answer will work

Nu-clear. The "S" is silent.

Or. You can try convincing all the governments of the world that economic growth (and the increased resource usage which comes with it) is a bad thing.

There will always be more people.. those people will always use more resources.

<start troll>
It must be nice in ShouldLand where all the good boys and girls stop breeding like rabbits and conserve resources until they get their asses handed to them by Reality Check Tech.
</end troll>

(yes i know it's a bad paraphrase of American Dad)

Oh no it's Roland!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078819)

And not Roland the gunslinger! Boycott Roland!!!

Would someone get those... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078837)

motherfucking snake generators on the motherfucking grid!

Re:Would someone get those... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079275)

We already have enough snakes! We don't need snake generators!!

Better description (2, Informative)

grimJester (890090) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078859)

here [wipo.int]

Sounds like it's not snake oil on the surface, but I have no real knowledge of the field.

Re:Better description (5, Informative)

d'baba (1134261) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079079)

But this shows a better image. [wipo.int]

Re:Better description (1)

zennyboy (1002544) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079137)

Sorry, but that's a penis

Re:Better description (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079597)

That is what she said.

Re:Better description (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079815)

Mod Parent Up!!! So fuckin funny!!

Eh (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078869)

Eh

micro-bummers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078901)

Isn't there some long-term effect of all these tiny little drains on the environment? I mean, the drag created by turbines, though small, does bear some effect over a thousand installations. Likewise with these snakes. The overall drag on currents could have some larger effect than we imagine.

The only sort of energy that we really get for free is solar.

Re:micro-bummers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078947)

Oh come on.
If you're ready to consider the insignificant effect these turbines would have on the OCEAN, why not dream up some effect of solar panels draining energy from the sun?

Intercourse the penguins (5, Insightful)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078915)

These devices would be deployed in groups of 20 or even more providing cheap electricity without harming our environment."

I think this underestimates the ability of someone, somewhere being able to find a problem with anything. Hydropower dams wild rivers. Windmills smack birds out of the air. Photovoltaics pave over entire deserts. Probably Anacondas will interfere with the lifecycle of some species or other. One day we'll realize that any energy system is going to have some ill effects and say, "Intercourse the penguins, I need to microwave my popcorn."

Re:Intercourse the penguins (1)

teknognome (910243) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078969)

"Intercourse the penguins, I need to microwave my popcorn."

How is penguin sex going to help microwave your popcorn?

Re:Intercourse the penguins (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079067)

someone could likely come up with some way of harnessing the energy.

Re:Intercourse the penguins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079127)

"Intercourse the penguins, I need to microwave my popcorn."

How is penguin sex going to help microwave your popcorn?

This is Slashdot, not 4chan, but I'm calling Rule 34 anyways. A little photoshopping of a screencap from March of the Penguins and some clever work with a Jiffy-Pop container, anyone?

Re:Intercourse the penguins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079479)

To all the deprived posters here:

http://www.jumpstation.ca/recroom/comedy/python/penguins.html [jumpstation.ca]

TV Announcer: That was episode two of "The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots", adapted radio by Bernard Hollowood and Brian London. And now, Radio 4 will explode.

(The radio explodes
Two old women are sitting on the couch listening to the radio when it explodes. One looks at the other.)

First Old Woman (Graham Chapman): We'll have to watch the telly then.

Second Old Woman (John Cleese): Yes.

First Old Woman: Well, what's on the television then?

Second Old Woman: It looks like a penguin.

(On the TV set there is indeed a penguin. It sits contentedly looking at them in a stuffed sort of way. There is nothing on the screen.)

First Old Woman: No, no, no, I didn't mean what was on the television set, I meant what programme?

Second Old Woman: Oh.

(The Second Old Women goes to the TV, switches it on and returns to her chair. The set takes a long time to warm up and produce a picture. During this pause the following conversation takes place.)

Second Old Woman: It's funny that penguin being there, innit? What's it doing there?

First Old Woman: Standing.

Second Old Woman: I can see that!

First Old Woman: If it lays an egg it will fall down the back of the Television set.

Second Old Woman: We'll have to watch that.
(pause) Unless it's a male.

First Old Woman: Ooh, I never thought of that.

Second Old Woman: Yes, looks fairly butch.

First Old Woman: Perhaps it comes from next door.

Second Old Woman: Penguins don't come from next door,
they come from the Antarctic.

First Old Woman: BURMA!
(sound of tea spoon being dropped into tea cup)

Second Old Woman: Why did you say Burma?

First Old Woman: I panicked.

Second Old Woman: Oh. Perhaps it's from the Zoo.

First Old Woman: Which zoo?

Second Old Woman: How should I know which Zoo?
I'm not Dr. Bloody Bronowski!!

First Old Woman: How does Dr. Bronowski know which zoo it came from?

Second Old Woman: He knows everything!

First Old Woman: Oh, I wouldn't like that, it would take the mystery out of life. Anyway if it was from the zoo it would have 'Property of the Zoo' stamped on it!

Second Old Woman: No it wouldn't, They don't stamp animals 'Property of the Zoo'!!! You couldn't stamp a huge lion.

First Old Woman: They stamp them when they're small.

Second Old Woman: What happens when they moult?

First Old Woman: Lions don't moult!

Second Old Woman: No, but penguins do. There, I've run rings around you logically.

First Old Woman: OH, INTERCOURSE THE PENGUIN!!

(On the TV screen there now appears an announcer)

TV Announcer: Hello. It's just gone 8 o'clock and time for the penguin on top of your television set to explode.

(The penguin on top of the set now explodes.)

First Old Woman: How did he know that was going to happen?!

TV Announcer:
It was an inspired guess. And now ...

Re:Intercourse the penguins (1)

d'baba (1134261) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079113)

Yes, but most of us would like to know whether we're intercoursing penguins or say, geese. It'd make a difference to me anyway.

Re:Intercourse the penguins (1, Interesting)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079131)

We already know what large scale tidal power will do as it even has problems on a small scale.

You have to take the energy from something - be it heat, sound, movement, or whatever. In this case we take it from movement. Namely tidal generator slow to stop much of the necessary long shore and littoral currents that move nutrients around that feed life close to the shore.

So far we have no tidal farms that remove enough energy to have very bad effects, however the small scale generators in parts of western Europe (especially France) have had a minor to medium impact. It also tends to cause beach erosion in some places because there is a break in the sediment being moved around.

Tidal generators really only make sense if your goal is to reduce carbon emissions - they definitely are a carbon free source of energy. However I'm not terribly interested in that, I'm interested in having the smallest foot print that we can reasonably do on the planet. Right now nuclear is that way but fear mongering has made it all but near impossible.

Of the other viable methods out there fossil fuels is still has the over all least impact for major energy production. Hydroelectric has a relatively small footprint but can't be built anywhere, same is true for some types of geothermal (however some types also release massive amounts of sulfur which is worse than the carbon emissions). Solar may one day get there but not only is it too hard to produce a consistent large amount of electricity year round but the by products of creating the panels are harsh and so is the disposal of ones that break (this is arguably worse than those carbon emissions again).

The problem with wind, tidal, and many of the others isn't in how it is getting the energy it is that the energy is a must to stay in it's current form - no amount of technology is going to change that. They can work OK in small places but that is really only much good for show and, again, I'm not terribly interested in making gestures that do nothing to make myself feel better.

Unfortunately many so called "environmentalist" aren't really looking for some thing environmentally sound as much as they are into a political cause (say, reducing carbon emissions. They may be doing so because they don't know any better, it makes them feel good about themselves (many are this way - see the above about having small alternative generators for show), or have a radical agenda they are trying to get accepted through something less radical (say some of the people who feel we are a cancer on the earth and need to be destroyed). Many, if nor most, scientists do it for the funding.

Re:Intercourse the penguins (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079313)

Reducing carbon emissions is not a political agenda, it's simple common sense. CO2 acidification of the oceans is becoming a major issue and it's only going to get worse as long as CO2 is significantly over normal, as in the CO2 level that has more or less persisted through the last eight or so ice ages. Humans produce far more CO2 on average than natural sources which are believed to cause enough CO2 to have short-lived negative effects, like volcanism. Your assertions to the contrary don't change the facts. CO2 doesn't have to be a greenhouse gas to be dangerous. Of course, it is a greenhouse gas, but that's a whole separate discussion (the one you think is the only one.)

Re:Intercourse the penguins (2, Interesting)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079763)

So, what do you suggest?

Do we create massive amount of sulfur in the air rapidly killing everything with large scale geothermal? Do we sterilize the oceans with tidal generators? Do we cause massive upheaval that likes of which the most radical Global Warming people do not even think of with massive wind farms? All of these are inherent in the system, coming up with different ways to get the energy will not solve them.

Then, of course, there are crazy radical things. For instance killing billions of living animals to reduce their carbon foot print. I am going to assume that you don't believe those ideas.

Solar isn't able to meet our energy needs so it's not an option - hopefully one day it will but that is still far off. As far as "other" goes this one is the most likely, I will also assume you have a better plan than "something will come up". Nuclear would do quite well but it politically is the hardest of them all to get, if you can get it then I would be happy. And lastly we can go back to living primitive which I will again assume you don't mean since you are using a computer and posting on a technology website.

You can list all the problems with CO2 and I agree, but outside of nuclear it is the smallest footprint out there that can meet our energy needs. Thus simply reducing CO2 does nothing and, in fact, tends to make things worse because we move to greater polluting methods. Just caring about reducing CO2 is like stopping your Cocaine habit by taking Heroine - not only did you not actually solve anything but you made the whole situation worse.

As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Simply focusing on CO2 emissions is assuming there is a free lunch and it is called "reduce carbon!". It's not. At best we can try to use less energy but at this point (unless you are trying to hide a radical agenda that is a form of "move back to the stone age") that amount is irrelevant and goes back to that "make me feel good" thing.

Re:Intercourse the penguins (2, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079525)

Solar may one day get there but not only is it too hard to produce a consistent large amount of electricity year round but the by products of creating the panels are harsh and so is the disposal of ones that break

This depends on the solar method. There's supposed to be a plant in either the planning or perhaps the early construction stages in Victor Valley, CA, which uses dishes to concentrate solar rays on a Stirling engine. I look periodically to find out its status, but solid progress seems to be a little elusive. Construction on a pilot plant near Barstow was supposed to begin late last year, but I'm not able to find anything clear on it. Still, the company has applied for a second plant in Imperial Valley, and they're saying that it should allow construction to begin by the end of 2009.

MODS (2, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079613)

"I'm interested in having the smallest foot print that we can reasonably do on the planet. Right now nuclear is that way but fear mongering has made it all but near impossible. Of the other viable methods out there fossil fuels is still has the over all least impact for major energy production....Many, if nor most, scientists do it for the funding."

This contradictory pile of anti-science gibberish is insightfull, how?

Re:Intercourse the penguins (4, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079181)

Windmills smack birds out of the air.

To be fair, a glass-faced office building will kill far more birds than a windmill.

The "smacking birds out of the air" is due to birds flying into the windmills as if they were a stationary object. The blades don't spin nearly fast enough to do any "smacking."

Actually putting a number on the rate of bird deaths is somewhat controversial, as its fairly difficult to count them, given that it happens so infrequently.

Re:Intercourse the penguins (5, Funny)

Repton (60818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079363)

"Actually putting a number on the rate of bird deaths is somewhat controversial, as its fairly difficult to count them, given that it happens so infrequently."

Clearly, we must build more wind farms so that we can gather more accurate data!

Re:Intercourse the penguins (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079405)

GP's point wasn't about the birds, it was about the fact that no matter WHAT we do someone will complain:

I think this underestimates the ability of someone, somewhere being able to find a problem with anything.

As you pointed out most of those complaints from environmental groups are spurious at best.

Re:Intercourse the penguins (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079475)

This is simply not true. 1700 to 4700 birds die in the windmill farm in Alameda County near the Altamont Pass. Now, that's a ridiculously vague number, there are hundreds of windmills at that site, and it includes electrocutions, but that is not "infrequently". Enough that NIMBY ecos and politicans have placed a moratorium on commerical wind power in the county.

The state of the art is to make the windmills as large as possible - huge windmills turn more slowly and have economies of scale. Lot sof the Altamont windmills are small and turn quite fast.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20070111/ai_n17133835 [findarticles.com]

Re:Intercourse the penguins (5, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079621)

1700 to 4700 birds die in the windmill farm in Alameda County near the Altamont Pass. Now, that's a ridiculously vague number

Altamont pass has over 4900 windmills. Even on the upper-end of that estimate, it's less than one per year. That's fairly "infrequent"

Also, you're right that the estimate is "ridiculously vague". You can't draw conclusions based on data with a 50% margin of error. If you're getting that kind of error, there's something seriously wrong with your data.

Re:Intercourse the penguins (1)

soundguy (415780) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079461)

There is no corner of this or any other universe where "intercourse" is considered a verb.

no consequences (1)

shystershep (643874) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078919)

providing cheap electricity without harming our environment.

Because, you know, 20 or more 100x7 meter tubes would have absolutely no conceivable effect on marine wildlife in the area.

Re:no consequences (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078961)

Well then put them in the Gulf of Mexico where we have already killed everything. As a bonus the dead zone gets bigger and bigger.

Actually I was wondering what it would take to filter all the algae out of the dead zone and create biodiesel out of it. Basically we have produced the perfect algae breeding ground with all of the fertilizer from the heartlands, could we farm the gulf too and possibly reduce the effect of the algae on the rest of the gulf?

Re:no consequences (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079141)

Depends on where you put them. If they're parked along the Oregon or Northern California Coast (where whales, sea lions, and etc live and thrive), then yeah, it'll be a bother. But if you park them where there's minimal impact (say, off the coast of New York City), or you space them out enough to not pose a hazard, no problem.

Besides, it's a question of how much damage. Potentially disturbing the patterns of some wildlife here or there (without killing them off, obviously) is a helluva lot more responsible than burning megatons of fuel oil daily, no?

/P

Except (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078939)

When the enviroflakes find out sea critters might get sliced and diced in the turbines, this will go the same way as wind generators because of birds. It will take an extra 5 years and countless wasted lawyer dollars to get a permit.

Re:Except (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079577)

Are the turbine blades open to the sea? I thought one of the challenges of tidal power was to get a working, sealed unit because seawater corrosion (not to mention sealife attachment) is such a problem.

Re:Except (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079711)

When the enviroflakes find out sea critters might get sliced and diced in the turbines, this will go the same way as wind generators because of birds. It will take an extra 5 years and countless wasted lawyer dollars to get a permit.

TFA indicated that it is a sealed system that uses wave action to circulated contained sea water through the turbines. No transfer of water in or out of the system and no sushi.

anaconda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24078943)

I got my anaconda right here, pal.

Re:anaconda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079087)

That's no anaconda in your pants, it's called a thread snake [wikipedia.org] .

New Method, Old Concept (4, Informative)

imstanny (722685) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078945)

There are about 30+ companies that exist, which capture 'wave' power. Two to come to mind are Ocean Power Technologies & Blue Energy, though to me, Blue Energy's method seems more efficient since it uses predictable current, rather than waves, to generate power.

Re:New Method, Old Concept (2, Interesting)

thetartanavenger (1052920) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079897)

Blue Energy's method seems more efficient since it uses predictable current, rather than waves, to generate power.

Whilst predictable is highly desirable, it can leaves large gaps in production in between each predicted moment, like tidal for example. You've gotta find something that solves the times in between.

When it comes to waves it's more a matter of probability instead. Stick one out at sea and you've got yourself a fluctuating unreliable power generator based upon the waves at the time. Stick enough of them out there and you're gonna get yourself a relatively constant output, whilst a few of them may have little to no waves, the others will. Slightly unreliable maybe, but all of these systems can't rely upon one source given it fail, and all of these issues can be managed using another alternate power source to level out the peaks etc.

I don't see us ever giving up on non-renewables completely, simply for there reliability when the renewables become unavailable, but I can guarantee you that their usage will slowly become less and less as more and more of these renewable sources are developed.

I know her! (1)

machine321 (458769) | more than 6 years ago | (#24078991)

I think I went to high school with Ana Conda.

Gasp! Oil company funded? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079013)

Atkins Oil is EVIL!!!

Ok now that it's said go back to your porn jokes.

Allow me to be the first... (1)

SaidinUnleashed (797936) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079063)

...to dub this the "Giant Electric Condom" or GEC for short.

Does it have back? (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079075)

Because MY anaconda don't want none unless you've got buns hon.

Depends on the water (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079097)

An anaconda might not want one unless it's got buns, hon.

So, like the Pelamis? (1)

pyromithrandir-ftw (975576) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079189)

Re:So, like the Pelamis? (2, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079285)

The Pelamis is based on the relative motion of fixed segments, this is based on the flow of water through a tube.

More Energy (4, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079253)

Sure, CO2 from generating electricty might be a problem. But no matter how you slice it, using energy contributes to climate change in various ways.

If you believe that humans are causing the climate to change, the answer is fewer humans. Lots fewer. You can argue that before 1850 humans (all 50 million or so of them) had negligible effects on the climate. After that, well there has been an effect.
Continued growth of human population is going to be having a greater and greater effect. There is no getting away from it.

Re:More Energy (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079327)

If you believe that humans are causing the climate to change, the answer is fewer humans. Lots fewer.

Or the answer could be that each human should have less impact, starting with those with the MOST impact... the people in the USA.

Huh??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079267)

What is a bulge wave? Is it just a compression wave that can be trademarked or is it something I"m not familiar with?

1 MW = 2000 houses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079301)

It always strikes me as optimistic when I see estimated power outputs and supposedly how many homes that would power. I mean, 1 megawatt of power between two-thousand houses? That's 500 watts each. My computer alone takes up more than that, and it's on 24/7. Add a heater or two into the mix because it's winter, not to mention a fridge, hot water system and various other electronic devices, and I'm easily using up four or five of those "houses" mentioned in the estimation. Honestly, in this age, who can live on an average power draw of just 500 watts?

Re:1 MW = 2000 houses? (2, Interesting)

soundguy (415780) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079687)

It always strikes me as optimistic when I see estimated power outputs and supposedly how many homes that would power.

It strikes me as completely fraudulent when I see a non-constant used as an example of a constant metric. I can think of a few things that I'd rather see used.

IIRC, one "horsepower" is something like 735 watts, so a megawatt is...let's see...carry the two...about 1360 horsepower.

So...one of these tubes is the rough equivalent of three C5 Corvettes running wide open or in audio terms, 1/3 of a Rolling Stones concert.

Re:1 MW = 2000 houses? (0, Offtopic)

mdfst13 (664665) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079829)

That's 500 watts each. My computer alone takes up more than that

How do you know that? My computer has a 350 watt power supply, but even with monitor, speakers, router, etc., it only takes 136 watts on my UPS (which measures such things). What's your computer have that makes it so much higher than mine?

Not going to happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079437)

"cheap electricity without harming our environment."

So basically, this project will not get any funding.

IEEE article on wave power generators (4, Informative)

ChrisCampbell47 (181542) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079451)

The July issue of IEEE Spectrum (hitting mailboxes in the last couple days) has an article about this, with a really cool picture.

Ocean Power Catches a Wave [ieee.org]

"The first commercial ocean energy project is scheduled to launch this summer off the coast of Portugal. Three snakelike wave-power generators built by Edinburgh's Pelamis Wave Power will deliver 2.25 megawatts through an undersea cable to the Portuguese coastal town of Aguçadoura. Within a year, another 28 generators should come online there, boosting the capacity to 22.5 MW. That may be a trickle of power, but the project represents a new push into wave and tidal power as governments eye the oceans as a way to meet their renewable energy targets."

Shoreline damage? (3, Interesting)

eagl (86459) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079471)

Many shorelines require natural wave action and currents to remain healthy. It seems like this is yet another technological "solution" that might in the long run cause more problems. The potential issues with shoreline erosion (or whatever might happen when wave energy is dispersed prior to getting to the shore) won't happen as quickly and obviously as we have seen with wind farm bird kills (apparently those big slow moving windmills are pretty good at whacking birds), the effects could be as disastrous as some of the things we've done with the Florida Everglades and much of the gulf coast.

The point that completely escapes many environmentalists, is that you can't just discard one technology and replace it with another, and expect everything to come out all right. There are damn good reasons behind the scientific method, and they do not include stomping feet, claiming anyone with a different opinion is trying to kill the world, or jumping headlong into untested technologies that, because they aren't bad in the same way as other technologies, must be 100% good. That's an insane way to pursue large-scale technology change, but that's what Gore and his army of environmental extremists consistently propose. Anything that replaces oil must be ok, even if it results in us burning food or in this case, disrupting wave energy and water currents along a stretch of shoreline. What could possibly go wrong? Idiots.

Let's see some long-term studies in limited regional experiments before we dump too much money into this boondoggle. We already wasted far too much cutting down and burning rainforests to grow corn which we then turned around and burned... How about using tried and true scientific methods before we rush into something really harmful.

In the meantime, we already have plenty of reasonably safe and clean technologies that have been in use for decades. Every nuclear power mishap that has ever occurred caused a mere fraction of the casualties we've had in just the last decade of conventional power plant and oil refinery mishaps... How about we start using the technology that doesn't actually kill anyone on an annual basis?

500w powers a house? (1)

LividBlivet (898817) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079599)

" An Anaconda would deliver an output power of 1MW (enough to power 2,000 houses). " Me no think so.

7 meters in diameter? (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079611)

I wonder how many joyriders would try sailing right through these things? They'd probably do quite well too, until they hit the turbine that is...

old (1)

gearloos (816828) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079701)

Don't know if it's because I work in the power utility industry and read it in a trade rag but isn't this news a year or so old?

2000 houses?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24079769)

1 MW / 2000 houses = 500 w / house

Maybe they don't have fridges, ovens, ... in those houses?

am I the only one? (2, Insightful)

zeroharmada (1004484) | more than 6 years ago | (#24079803)

Am I the only one who thinks arrays of these could be used to power trans-oceanic relay stations leading to a more robust internet backbone. The internet could be not only made of tubes, but powered by them too.
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