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Generating Power From Ocean Buoys and Kites

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the i-can-see-my-house-from-here dept.

Power 131

cheezitmike writes "Researchers at Oregon State University are testing a new type of wave-energy converter to generate electricity from ocean waves: 'Even when the ocean seems calm, swells are moving water up and down sufficiently to generate electricity. ... For decades the challenge has been to build a device that can withstand monster waves and gale-force winds, not to mention corrosive saltwater, seaweed, floating debris and curious marine mammals. ... In the most recent prototypes, a thick coil of copper wire is inside the first component, which is anchored to the seafloor. The second component is a magnet attached to a float that moves up and down freely with the waves. As the magnet is heaved by the waves, its magnetic field moves along the stationary coil of copper wire. This motion induces a current in the wire — electricity.'" Meanwhile, researchers at Stanford are working to design "turbine kites" that operate at 30,000 feet, where air currents flow much faster than they do close to the ground. Ken Caldeira, a Stanford associate professor, said, "If you tapped into 1% of the power in high-altitude winds, that would be enough to continuously power all civilization."

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Zap (1)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578161)

Someone got the wiring wrong. Poor fishies.

Re:Zap (2, Funny)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579123)

I think lightning already took care of that.

Re:Zap (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580303)

or an airplane just flew through one of the thousand kite lines and the fishies and airplane passengers get zapped!

Consequences (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578185)

Wouldn't this cause drag in the jetstreams... which are, you know, absolutely critical for weather - and thus life - on this planet? If we alter the jetstreams even slightly, aren't we going to cause major collateral damage down the line?

There's no such thing as free energy.

Re:Consequences (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578221)

Can you suggest a source of energy that has no potential downside whatsoever? No? Then, kindly, stop whining.

I swear, this attitude has got to stop. "Oh solution X for problem Y has a (potential) downside, it's clearly unsafe, we should abandon it". Happens every single fucking time power generation comes up on slashdot. Since when did people start thinking like Pierson's Puppeteers?

If a solution to a problem (in this case power generation) offers fewer downsides than the existing solutions (fossil fuels mainly), then please, by all means, implement it. This goes for passive power collection (ground based, sea based or orbital), fusion energy, biomass energy, even fission. Worry about the consequences, but don't let those dangers blind you to the very real danger of staying the course with what we already have.

Re:Consequences (2, Funny)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578277)

Zero point energy has no downsides, I'm going to attach one to my flying car when the Government stops suppressing the technology.

Re:Consequences (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578403)

Isn't the ZPE what supports the universe and provides a place for all those little superstrings to play? You might collapse the false vacuum or something. ;-)

Re:Consequences (3, Insightful)

JDub87 (1391689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578377)

First off these are by no means perfect solutions themselves. They're expensive for the power generated, are subject to the whims of nature and of course, could affect surrounding nature in unforeseen ways. What happens when you cause large dead spots in the ocean or wind currents? Have any real life tests been performed?

Personally I don't like the idea of off shore power generation, I'm sure it would expand and screw up the laws for sailors and the sea. Not to mention the large zones a few miles off shore that would be off limits to the public.

You also forgot to mention nuclear power, which beats everything else atm. If power companies want to experiment with this stuff i say go for it, but to realistically solve power needs with reliability America needs to get its nuclear ass in gear.

Re:Consequences (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579357)

Just how small do you think the oceans are?

Re:Consequences (3, Insightful)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579469)

America needs to get its nuclear ass in gear.

You clearly have no idea what fission is so why are you here and who is paying you?

Re:Consequences (3, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578781)

I swear, this attitude has got to stop. "Oh solution X for problem Y has a (potential) downside, it's clearly unsafe, we should abandon it". Happens every single fucking time power generation comes up on slashdot. Since when did people start thinking like Pierson's Puppeteers?

Nonsense. Of you are looking to switch power generation because the current method will kill your grandchildren, then it's perfectly reasonable to point out that the purposed solution will kill your grand children.

There is no reason to switch to something more expensive, complicated, or convoluted if the end result is the same even if just by another means. We are looking to get off fossil fuels because it effects the environment and has the potential of destroying a lot of life, switching to something that does the exact same thing is fucking stupid.

If a solution to a problem (in this case power generation) offers fewer downsides than the existing solutions (fossil fuels mainly), then please, by all means, implement it. This goes for passive power collection (ground based, sea based or orbital), fusion energy, biomass energy, even fission. Worry about the consequences, but don't let those dangers blind you to the very real danger of staying the course with what we already have.

It seems to me that you are getting your panties in a know because someone asked about the effect on the weather. Wouldn't that be the same as worrying about the consequences? Just because you don't see any serious consequences doesn't mean there isn't any or the potential for any. Hell, if they are spotted early, then scams like this kite business can be avoided and money invested into real solutions can be more effective.

Re:Consequences (2, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579135)

Consider the effect of coastlines on waves. That should give you a little bit of insight as to why there is no worry at all about consequences. As for the kites, consider the effects of trees mountains and buildings and how they and kites are all tiny specks in comparionson to a high pressure system covering half of the continent of North America. You are quibbling about farts in hurricanes here.

Re:Consequences (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579595)

Nonsense. Of you are looking to switch power generation because the current method will kill your grandchildren, then it's perfectly reasonable to point out that the purposed solution will kill your grand children.

There is no reason to switch to something more expensive, complicated, or convoluted if the end result is the same even if just by another means. We are looking to get off fossil fuels because it effects the environment and has the potential of destroying a lot of life, switching to something that does the exact same thing is fucking stupid.

So what happens of the consequences are better, but some idiot who can't tell the difference is still angsting in public? Should we not switch? As I see it, that's this current thread with an anonymous troll playing the role of the idiot.

Re:Consequences (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580311)

So what happens of the consequences are better, but some idiot who can't tell the difference is still angsting in public?

Are they really better or just different? All to often people use egg headed accounting to justify an action without actually looking at the downsides, Take my Ebaying neighbor for instance, made tons of money selling things on Ebay until you realize he was spending more to buy the stuff then he was getting from Ebay, but all he would talk about is his "profit".

Should we not switch? As I see it, that's this current thread with an anonymous troll playing the role of the idiot.

No, we should discuss it and make sure it's understood about what will happen, what can happen, what is likely to happen, how that is different from what we already have and if there is any real improvement. From there, we should make the decision to use or not to use.

Of course you are free to use the crap all you want. Just don't expect to force others onto it without a clear and competent discussion.

Re:Consequences (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28583399)

Are they really better or just different? All to often people use egg headed accounting to justify an action without actually looking at the downsides, Take my Ebaying neighbor for instance, made tons of money selling things on Ebay until you realize he was spending more to buy the stuff then he was getting from Ebay, but all he would talk about is his "profit".

I don't see unprofitability as a problem. Someone isn't going to lose my money with a stratospheric kite. Instead, I only see the various externalities like pollution, air traffic crowding and collisions, the sort of thing that affects other people either in reality or theory. And frankly, the only real way to figure out all the problems of a new technology is to try that technology out in the real world.

No, we should discuss it and make sure it's understood about what will happen, what can happen, what is likely to happen, how that is different from what we already have and if there is any real improvement. From there, we should make the decision to use or not to use.

We can rule out the absurd consequences mentioned by the initial poster, namely, drag on the jet stream. Yes, there will be drag and yes, we will slow down the jet stream some. Even if we're running current society off of the jet streams, we probably won't see any change in them. The energy loss is insignificant compared to the energy of the jet streams. I can't be bothered to entertain every lunatic fantasy that comes around.

Even if we consider the threat legitimate, it's just another cost, one that grows as we increase the number of kites. Since we're going from zero change at zero kites to a modest change at a lot of kites, we can add some number before problems become significant. Even if a trillion kites cause too much trouble, we can still fly a thousand or a million kites. There's some balance between whatever harm an additional kite can do and the benefit of that kite. Given that the benefits and costs for power generating kites are different from other power generation sources, it means that we have expanded the options available to us even if kites do not prove to be that useful in the long run.

Finally, your suggestion reeks of the Precautionary Principle. If it were beholden to itself, we'd never apply the principle simply because it is a far from optimal risk management technique that except under lucky circumstances, cause more harm than it prevents.

Re:Consequences (1, Troll)

blindseer (891256) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580149)

Nonsense. Of you are looking to switch power generation because the current method will kill your grandchildren, then it's perfectly reasonable to point out that the purposed solution will kill your grand children.

There is no reason to switch to something more expensive, complicated, or convoluted if the end result is the same even if just by another means. We are looking to get off fossil fuels because it effects the environment and has the potential of destroying a lot of life, switching to something that does the exact same thing is fucking stupid.

I am not convinced that burning fossil fuels effects the environment. The complete combustion of hydrocarbons releases energy, water, and carbon dioxide. The amount of energy, water, and carbon dioxide released is so minute compared to that of the sun and sea life that I do not believe it is causing any thing detrimental to the environment. Water and carbon dioxide is what plants need to live, by burning fossil fuels we are essentially fertilizing the earth.

If we assume for the moment that carbon dioxide is a potent greenhouse gas (I think it is a greenhouse gas, just not as potent as people claim) then we can also assume that methane is an even more potent greenhouse gas. Right now we have oil and natural gas fields off the coast of California bubbling methane into the air and oil slicks onto the beaches. If you want to improve the environment then it would make sense to bottle up that methane before it reaches the atmosphere and convert it to a lesser greenhouse gas by burning it. That oil that is washing up onto the beaches could likewise be harvested before it pollutes. It doesn't have to be burnt, that oil could be used for the production of lubricants, tires, and plastics.

I'm not against fossil fuels nor am I really for it. One thing I dislike is seeing our nation's wealth being siphoned off for energy that we can produce ourselves. We can drill for oil here. We can build nuclear power plants, windmills and solar panels. The reason we need to get off fossil fuels is because it will not be economically viable in some future date. Until that time comes I see no need to artificially enforce the movement to an alternative. If people want to see the world stop burning fossil fuels then come up with a viable alternative FIRST then people will move naturally. By forcing people away from fossil fuels before a viable alternative exists is suicide. We need that energy to keep our standard of living, by reducing that standard of living people will die.

Every summer we hear about the large number of people that die from heat exposure with the implicit or explicit blame on global warming. First, I don't believe global warming is happening any more since, for example, Iceland has seen polar bears for three years in a row after a 25 year absence. Second, we have things like running water, shelter, and electricity in "civilized" society. Why is it that people are dying of heat in France when the temperature has reached 90F? That is not "hot" by my standards. I see that every summer around here, or at least I used to. The last few summers have been rather mild in comparison. The only reason I can fathom that people are dying from 90F heat in France is either from their own stupidity or because of poverty. With clean running water, shade, and an electric fan I would think that most anyone can survive 90F outdoor temperatures.

I don't believe that continuing to burn fossil fuels will kill your grandchildren. I do believe that not burning fossil fuels, before a viable alternative exists, will likely kill you before they are born.

Re:Consequences (1)

TempeTerra (83076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28582285)

The complete combustion of hydrocarbons releases energy, water, and carbon dioxide. The amount of energy, water, and carbon dioxide released is so minute compared to that of the sun and sea life that I do not believe it is causing any thing detrimental to the environment.

That's just an argument from personal incredulity. You need to think about what's being added to the system, not what's already there. If the bathtub is mostly full, why should I care that the tap is dripping? It's a tiny effect compared to the size of the bath. Or, as Einstein may have said, there is no force in the universe more powerful than compound interest.

Re:Consequences (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28579061)

Can you suggest a source of energy that has no potential downside whatsoever?

American Blubber (TM) - very high energy density, suitable for use in conventional power stations. They're gonna die anyway so use it or lose it. Also will result in a significant reduction in Global Stupidity (TM). Unlike Global Warming, there is no doubt that Global Stuipidity (TM) has an anthropogenic origin.

Re:Consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28580155)

American Blubber (TM)

Already designated for soap production.

Re:Consequences (3, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579111)

Since when did people start thinking like Pierson's Puppeteers?

Since they became pampered, overfed first world types with a vast environmental footprint? Of the course the fact that vast areas of the planet are populated by people dying early and painfully because they don't aren't allowed to have technologies considered 'environmentally damaging' is conveniently not mentioned.

Re:Consequences (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28579563)

Of the course the fact that vast areas of the planet are populated by people dying early and painfully because they live in inhospitable areas like deserts and/or war among themselves is conveniently not mentioned.

FTFY

Re:Consequences (1)

purevision (1591169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579463)

Various ideas are tacking center thought of producing green energy here are books about producing <a href="http://www.ebooksresearch.com/alternative-fuel-and-energy-1.asp"> alternative energy</a> many guys trying to produce electricity or power for personal use&#226;&#8364;&#166;.

Re:Consequences (3, Interesting)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578919)

Jet Airliners already catch free rides in the jet stream to save fuel,
and as there are thousands of planes up around the world
with likely hundreds of them doing it no problems so far
that we can detect.

Also, there are huge current underwater like the antarctic circumpolar
current that has about 140 times the flow of all the rivers on Earth.

A minor tap on it would power the southern hemisphere most likely.

Re:Consequences (2, Interesting)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579081)

An airliner flying in the jet stream doesn't slow it down significantly. There is a small effect when the airliner enters the jet stream (and accelerates), but I think in cruise flight the effect is very small. A power generating kite extracts energy from the jet stream. The description of enough energy to power civilization is surprising to me (though it may be true), are they sure they have counted that the kites will slow down the jet stream? Also the jet stream moves around and changes direction a lot, it can flow anywhere across the US (I don't know the pattern over the rest of the earth), mostly west to east, but can be due north or south. I don't know how you would move the anchorages for the kites around quickly enough to keep up.

Re:Consequences (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579255)

Changing the jet stream by 1% impacting weather? I would put money down that it varies by more than 5% over the course of a year. 1% of anything is RARELY an issue, and I doubt that it will be here.

The problem comes when you depend on one thing and increase the percentage more and more. For example, the world current depends on Coal, oil and natural gas. It is adding FAR more additional CO2 than all the natural processes such as Volcano's, space, etc. Had we added only 1% new CO2, we would not have issues.

In the end, what is needed is a DIVERSIFIED energy matrix from various sources, ideally, geo-thermal, solar, wind, kites, tidal, nukes, etc. Once we no longer depend on one source, then we will not be so insane as to deny actions that are visibly, let alone scientifically, occurring.

Re:Consequences (2, Insightful)

Shark (78448) | more than 5 years ago | (#28581533)

The problem comes when you depend on one thing and increase the percentage more and more. For example, the world current depends on Coal, oil and natural gas. It is adding FAR more additional CO2 than all the natural processes such as Volcano's, space, etc. Had we added only 1% new CO2, we would not have issues.

You might want to check the veracity of that statement...

1% of anything is RARELY an issue, and I doubt that it will be here.

You probably also should note that CO2 is 0.0383% of the earth's atmosphere.

Re:Consequences (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28583595)

What was wrong with my statement? The amount of CO2 that Man puts out YEARLY is far far more than all the volcano's of the last century. I have checked it. Keep in mind that it is not recycling CO2 that is the issue. IT IS ADDED co2 that is the problem. And Co2 has increased more than 1% under man. Just because the total concentration is .0383 of the earth's atmosphere has absolutely NOTHING to do with man's influence. Care to remove your red herring?

Re:Consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28581897)

We are all going to die... do us a favour and kill yourself now. you are affecting the envourment for the worst. The planet was happier without you.

You are a waste of carbon.

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Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578219)

Now there's an idea!

Hot air can work! (1)

chfriley (160627) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579053)

That is right, hot air can power steam turbines. Using 1% of the comments here could provide enough power to power the world. This one in particular would generated a LOT of power.

(Reminds me of the "Scream Floor" on Monsters Inc.)

1% is such a small number (1)

sneilan (1416093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578307)

Surely that would require no significant amount of resources to be tapped. Maybe just an area the size of Australia? Not sure about that though. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Re:1% is such a small number (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578395)

If I only had mod points... This raises a question as to whether or not an idea of this magnitude comes to fruition through scientific means (not sexy) or political means (sexy to Al Gore).
Yes, it may power a civilization... but to what end? If it means stronger tornadoes in the midwest, it could be both tragic and expensive. The natural resources used to produce such a device would be somewhat trivial compared to usual consumption, but what impact would this have on us common folk?

Re:1% is such a small number (3, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579929)

Oh, for God's sake this neurotic fingernail chewing has to stop. Any energy used to create electricity MUST, by the laws of physics, come from somewhere else. Sorry kiddies, but there is no magic wand to make energy appear without some consequences. Grow up.

By choosing to shoot down any and all alt-energy methods, you thereby choose to continue burning fossil fuels as the major method of electricity generation, which is also the majority source of carbon and old school pollution.

It's time to put on your big-boy pants, recognize we have a problem that needs solutions NOW and be willing to deal with the consequences. The second worst thing we could do, next to "nothing", is pick a single new method to pursue. We need to try them all to see what works, what the problems are, etc.. The answer will probably be a mix of new technologies.

We've become a nation, no a WORLD of spoiled whiners. Man up, take some fucking responsibility and DO something. Spoiled whining children should be spanked.

Re:1% is such a small number (1)

sneilan (1416093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28581151)

We're not whining. We're just discussing. We know what must happen, but, also realize that it's going to tear the world apart & we don't like it.

Re:1% is such a small number (2, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578397)

Just don't think about transmission losses... Those pesky realities mess up perfectly good theories.

Re:1% is such a small number (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578979)

Exactly my thought. 1% is a tiny number, until you multiply it by the surface area of the Earth. Let's talk some real numbers instead. Current world power consumption is around 500 Exajoules per year, or about 15 TW on average. About 89 PW of solar energy hits the Earth's surface. This means that you'd need 0.017% of the Earth's surface to be converted to solar power to generate enough power for the entire world[1]. Now let's turn these into real numbers, rather than percentages. The surface area of the world is 510,072,000km^2. For solar, you'd need 85,967.191km^2, or a square around 300km on each side. For wind energy, you'd need 5,100,720km^2, or a square around 2250km on each side. Which of these sounds more feasible?

The figures for solar are using the average power, but it's worth noting that a number of the places with the highest solar energy are not particularly suited to human habitation. The Sahara desert is 9,000,000km^2. Enough solar energy hits less than 1% of the Sahara to power the entire world.

That's not to say wind power is a waste of time. The nice thing about this idea is that it works at night. Without some very efficient storage system or room-temperature superconductors, it's not feasible to power the whole world with solar energy. It's much easier to take things like this seriously, however, without the needless hyperbole.

[1] Note I'm assuming 100% efficiency here. The original article stated 1% of the energy in the wind, not 1% of the extractable energy, meaning that he was also assuming 100% efficiency. Back in the real world, scale all of the areas up by another order of magnitude or so.

Re:1% is such a small number (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28579881)

Boy, you should go to work for the obama administration. You've mixed up enough of the facts for this to sound almost plausible.

Solar is a good idea and the way to go but you're overlooking a couple of BIG problems.

First you're going to have to transmit the power so it can't all be in one place. Maybe you thought about this but the 300km^2 you compute will need to be all over the world.

Second, efficiency shows up in multiple places. If you get 10% efficiency that makes 3000km^ OF SOLAR PANELS!!!!. Not just ground to put them on. Let's think about that. How much would 3000km^2 of solar panels of 10% efficiency cost to manufacture? How about the wiring? How about switch panels? Sure, you can tie into the grid, but you still need wire.

And last but not least, where are you going to put all this power for use at night? Yeah maybe wind helps but many of the same problems crop up.

Look, I'm not saying we shan't pursue this. Most likely we will have to at some point but wind and solar will not do it all. It just doesn't scale and the obama administration has become quite shameless in its ability to LIE (there, I said it) to us whenever it deems it expedient.

How about let's do this: 1) build about 10 nuclear plants around the US. Yes, you can put one in my area (would prefer that to the coal fired jobbies we have) 2) role out 10km^2 solar / wind hybrid "generators" in every state (gets you 500km^2) along with the transmission cabling, storage, etc.)

All this "stimulus" would have been better spent on that than all the crap it's been wasted on so far. We've all gone into generational debt so the rich that obama vilified could get there assets pulled out of the fire.

And don't get me started on health care that penalizes businesses for providing me coverage but exempts unions and union employees from the requirements that penalize everyone else.

Re:1% is such a small number (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28581115)

Realistically though - you would never ever want all of the world's electricity production in one location or from one method.

Obvious political reasons - see Middle East OPEC Cartel for more information on this.

Power distribution nightmares - although super conducting main lines like they're using in New York are very promising.

Night / Day transitions - At night, the desert won't be generating anything.

SimCity Microwave Power is the only answer... and a great weapon to use if someone pisses you off.

Nature's take (1)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578313)

Nature itself uses tech. similar to solar panels (green leaves) to get the energy it needs, not the wind or waves.

My bet is on more efficient solar panels, a solid state power collectors.

Re:Nature's take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578849)

Nature itself uses tech. similar to legs to get the transportation it needs, not wheels.

My bet is on more efficient legs for fast transportation.

Re:Nature's take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28579517)

Nature itself uses tech. similar to legs to get the transportation it needs, not wheels.

My bet is on more efficient legs for fast transportation.

Bad analogy. We're built for agility and to adapt to our environment, speed is secondary to that. Why don't you try climbing over a wall, or even up a flight of stairs with wheels instead of legs.

Re:Nature's take (1)

dahip (1460853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28581169)

Only goes to prove the point being made. Whatever works for nature might not be the best for us. Different goals, different solutions.

Re:Nature's take (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579133)

Call me back when nature uses photosynthesis to create electricity.

Re:Nature's take (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579759)

"Call me back when nature uses photosynthesis to create electricity."
*Ring ring*

Photosynthesis----->Coal------------------>
                                           \
                                            -->Electricity
                                           /
Photosynthesys->Vegitables/Fruits->Humans->->Bioelectricity

Aren't we natural?

The problem is/solution is... (1, Insightful)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578333)

The challenge with this plan is how are they going to transmit the energy from 30,000 feet? How much does 40,000 feet of cable weigh? That's about 7 miles. Perhaps they could use lightweight tether and beam the energy using microwave like the space energy proposal but that adds complexity. BTW, The design referred to in the article uses a series of helicopter-like blades to sustain lift and generate electricity.

BTM

Re:The problem is/solution is... (1)

unl0rd (930446) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578745)

wireless power of course!

Pumping kite wind generator (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578765)

The simplest idea I've seen uses a kite on the end of a tether. The tether is paid out, generating energy, and then pulled back in, requiring energy. By changing the kite's angle of attack during the recovery phase, a net energy output can be obtained.

The energy output is supposed to be around 20kW per square metre... is there any reason why this wouldn't scale to 20GW for square-kilometre kites?

www.win.tue.nl/casa/meetings/special/ecmi08/pumping-kite.pdf

Re:The problem is/solution is... (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579285)

How much does 40,000 feet of cable weigh?

Go to the top of the class !

This was briefly discussed in Number Watch [numberwatch.co.uk] a few years ago.

Re:The problem is/solution is... (1)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28581549)

How much does 40,000 feet of cable weigh?

Go to the top of the class !

This was briefly discussed in Number Watch [numberwatch.co.uk] a few years ago.

I looked at that site and I am unimpressed. The guy doesn't give any numbers (despite calling his site "numberwatch"), his only argument is that _he_ can't imagine it working because he can't build it with his engineering skills - without even knowing details of the plan. That is exactly the sort of useless whinging that this thread is about.

Looking at the rest of the site, it seems to be the work of an unhinged libertarian-turned-global-warming-denier who thinks he is much smarter than everybody else, obviously (gems like "there is no scientific theory linking carbon dioxide to the runaway global warming that is the basis of the calamitous predictions" are typical).

Stop the Irony (4, Insightful)

daath93 (1356187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578369)

Here in Oregon the greenies have been fighting against the energy buoys for a while. They are concerned that electromagnetic cables on the ocean floor could affect sea life, and that buoys could interfere with whale and fish migration. We've also been tearing down hydroelectric dams because it disturbs the salmon. We got Washington DC jacking up the price of non-enviro friendly electricity on one end and the greenies on the other end kicking the green energy in the balls.

Re:Stop the Irony (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578731)

Taken to the extreme, the green ideology and its precautionary principle demands suicide.

These people need to go outside and kill something. Seriously. Animals and plants die. It's a given.

But as long as we don't burn fossil fuels on a massive scale, don't emit any poisons in bigger quantities or higher concentrations than we found them, as long as we make sure that we permanently set aside 10%-30% of all land, and lakes, and sea, and ocean, as long as we do that nature will be fine. This is coming from an anonymous occasionally green-voting vegetarian coward.

Re:Stop the Irony (4, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578917)

Right, lets stop the irony and blame the greenies, lets ignore the fact the dams are 80yrs old, poorly designed and commercial fishermen [washingtonpost.com] want them altered/removed to allow salmon to spawn. Seems to me it's simply a failure to invest in modern infrastructure (fish ladders), failure to reinvest seems to be a bad habit power companies have picked up these days.

Re:Stop the Irony (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579853)

More that boiling the message down to a one sentence eyeball grabbing headline ends up removing all the sane details of said message...

The paradox happens when the headlines are put up against each other, with no details included...

Re:Stop the Irony (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579211)

Dams are some of the most ecologically disruptive creations of mankind. They are not, repeat not "green" power.

You could put paddlewheels all up and down every river not being used for transport (and some of those too) and generate hydro power without having to build megalithic dams, but humans seem to be addicted to centralization. There are benefits to be had from it for sure, but [large scale] dams are still bad.

Re:Stop the Irony (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579575)

Dams are some of the most ecologically disruptive creations of mankind. They are not, repeat not "green" power.

Personally, I don't care one way or another. As I see it, "ecologically disruptive" is overrated. Even if humanity turns out to be one of the great ecological disruptions of the past few billion years for Earth, it's for a good cause, namely a space faring technological society. We need a better reason than that to stop building them. That dam does a lot of work for us.

You could put paddlewheels all up and down every river not being used for transport (and some of those too) and generate hydro power without having to build megalithic dams, but humans seem to be addicted to centralization. There are benefits to be had from it for sure, but [large scale] dams are still bad.

Building dams is a hell of a lot cheaper and more efficient than building paddlewheels all up and down the river. For example, every time you have a rapid or a waterfall in a river, you're losing potentially harvestable energy that a paddlewheel can't get, but a dam can get. In this case, centralization (which isn't really centralized since there are many dams on many rivers) works.

Dual purpose (3, Interesting)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579603)

Most large dams are there also for water storage and flood control, to even the supply out over the year, and we really don't have much in the way of alternatives for that.

Re:Stop the Irony (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579955)

Sounds like a very green bunch: A combination of astroturf + money.

I suspect that the energy lobby is somewhere behind these bizarre anti-sustainability movements. Maybe even convincing poor fools that they are really helping things out.

Free-ranging dinosaurs vs chemical fertilizers (1)

Green Salad (705185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28581061)

That's why I use only fuel obtained from 100% organic crude oil, flowing the goodness of Mother Earth . I'm confident Exxon fuel comes from free-ranging, happy dinosaurs.

I wouldn't even think of filling my Prius with fuel that was from living matter trapped and enslaved on some industrial agri-business and force-fed chemical fertilizers.

Re:Stop the Irony (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28581903)

Nuke em.. its the only way to be sure....

Seasteading (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578375)

I'm interested in this topic partly because of its connection to "seasteading" or sea-surface colonization.

As with other forms of "alternative" energy, though, the problem is cost. Generating energy from renewable sources certainly sounds nifty. But does it make sense for the kind of low-budget settlement that could plausibly exist anytime soon, or even for conventional markets on land? The article summary is about making an energy generator that will work, period, not making something that can compete with existing energy sources. Right now, alt-energy proposals all seem to rely on governments heavily taxing fossil fuels and heavily subsidizing the new sources, creating a very unfree market. I've even heard the claim (though I've not looked into the numbers) that some of these systems cost more to build and maintain than the lifetime expected value of the energy they harvest.

Rather than a big, durable system, why not some kind of cheap low-energy system? I've heard of some tiny wind (?) energy generator developed for use in the Third World that costs next to nothing and produces a tiny but useful trickle of electricity. If you've got a bunch of those, it doesn't much matter if some break in a big storm.

To Late (1)

rlither (1373097) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578413)

Google already did this and patend it

Good luck with that (4, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578461)

"If you tapped into 1% of the power in high-altitude winds, that would be enough to continuously power all civilization."

And if you tapped into 1% of the power in the heat of the earth's core, that would be enough to power all of civilization on Zeti Reticuli, and if you tapped into 1% of the solar output by building a tiny Dyson sphere that would be enough to power all of Known Space. But let's first ask ourselves, is it practical and cost-effective?

Re:Good luck with that (5, Funny)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578807)

But let's first ask ourselves, is it practical and cost-effective?

I'm sure we can cap and trade it into being practical and cost-effective. That's the power of the free market when some people are in charge.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

Ferretman (224859) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580483)

So we can *fake* it by artificially raising the prices of better, cheaper, more power-dense energy sources?

Re:Good luck with that (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580753)

well, yea,

that's the point of their "free market". When only the rich can afford energy, the massive amounts or poor will demand something to be done.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579015)

Practical and cost effective?

Yes.

Most of earth's problems could be solved by having plentiful, cheap, easy, nearly-free energy. Not enough food? Grow-lights and mineral plants could fix that. Not enough fresh water? Purifiers would be easy to build as-needed along the coast. Not enough diamonds? Plenty of robots to mine them for you.

Re:Good luck with that (3, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579205)

Except the major problem: too many people.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579525)

Except the major problem: too many people.

kill all humans.. I've been saying it for years....

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28583501)

you should kick it off by leading the charge yourself

Re:Good luck with that (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579629)

That again comes back to energy. In the extreme case, put them on the Moon, Mars, and every inhabitable rock within reach.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28579213)

EXCEPT we can't turn electricty to cold(as in directly without producing heat at the same time) yet. So we are still stuck with global warming unless we find a way to do so.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

fredmosby (545378) | more than 5 years ago | (#28582025)

When we harvest electricity from the environment it cools the earth down. Then all we have to do is convert the electricity into radiation (like light or radio waves) and shoot it out into space. Or we could just build a bunch of mirrors.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579515)

Presumably to harvest 1% of the wind energy in the upper atmosphere, you'd need to have around 1% of the wind there pass through your turbine. (Probably more, because your turbine isn't going to harvest all the energy in the wind.)

Is it "nearly free" to have 1% of the stratosphere full of turbine kites? That's a lot of kites...

Re:Good luck with that (2, Insightful)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580645)

Probably much less than 1%. The upper altitude wind energy is highly concentrated in the jet streams, so you would get most of your energy from there. The harvesting is greatly complicated by the jet streams wandering around, though.

How do get the energy from earth to Zeti Reticuli? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28580707)

How do get the energy from earth to Zeti Reticuli?

I like your thinking but I don't think you're being practical or cost effective.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28581185)

I love it when "scientists" say stuff like that. How many freakin' kites would it take to harness 1%? Would you still be able to see the sky?

Kitty power! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578507)

At first glance I read the title as "Generating Power From Ocean Buoys and Kitties"

I thought someone had finally harnessed the power of self-righting kitties for the betterment of mankind.

Ben Franklin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578557)

Ben Franklin?

Watch out! It's a kite! (0)

teamsleep (903456) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578581)

I wonder how you can get by the kites when you're flying directly at them in an airplane. They'd need to GPS coordinate where the kites are at all times. I mean really, who wants to die by a kite in mid air? Would be funny but not so pretty.

Old news (0, Offtopic)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578611)

I spent a year at Oregon State University back in 2006-2007. They were talking about the ocean wave generators back then; it seems to be the darling of the engineering department there.

Don't ever go there by the way. It's in a really small town with an annoying football culture and an annoying number of frat houses, filled with small-time criminals, bored cops, and very few permanent residents.

Boondoggle bait (2, Insightful)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578657)

Boondoggle: n. work of little or no value done merely to keep or look busy.

Political favor is unfortunately a far more dominant motivation to develop sustainable energy technology than sustainability itself. I've seen too many boondoggle projects get huge grants because they are the most visible, like big wind farms within sight of a large population, in favor of more suitable locations. If we can't implement a centuries-old technology effectively today at ground level, what good is a new technology in one of the most foreign environments known to mankind? Ignorant energy harvesting is what got us in this mess in the first place!

I have a strong respect for academic studies, but minds aimed at sustainable living are wasted on these implausible contrivances. There's enough dorks on Star Trek forums trying to prove useless theories. Don't waste our taxes on them.

Re:Boondoggle bait (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578887)

Well, perhaps a nation of 300 million can afford to research more than one thing at a time.

Both these technologies are sound ideas for research because they both seek to use some of the highest power densities that also are widespread.

The motion of the waves typically has a higher power density than the wind that created them, which is perhaps not entirely intuitive.

Re: Good subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28579119)

Various ideas are tacking center thought of producing green energy here are books about producing alternative energy [ebooksresearch.com] many guys trying to produce electricity or power for personal useâ¦.

Good subject (1)

purevision (1591169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579287)

Various ideas are tacking center thought of producing green energy here are books about producing http://www.ebooksresearch.com/alternative-fuel-and-energy-1.asp [slashdot.org] " target="_blank"> alternative energy many guys trying to produce electricity or power for personal useâ¦.

Why use all these wires ? (0, Flamebait)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579327)

I strikes me that in both these solutions, they are using a lot of vulnerable wiring to either transmit the current somewhere it can be used or to actually generate the current. Why not stick to the same principle as hydro-electric ? If you build 2 tall chimneys, one shorter than the other, and join them at the base via a turbine, the pressure difference between the two will turn the turbine. The higher the taller chimney, the greater the pressure difference. This works with or without a jet stream type phenomenon.

Implement a similar scheme in the ocean, where either a deep underwater current or just the simple pressure difference will suck (or blow) water down from (or up to) a higher level, turning a turbine. The turbine can be onshore for easy maintenance and repair. Drop one end of a rigid pipe to the bottom of the Marianas trench and you will have a pressure difference of 1000 times sea level. I realise you wouldn't see the full 1000x pressure at sea level but by gradually reducing the diameter of the pipe as it ascends you can maintain a considerable pressure difference. With both ends under water it creates a circuit with a turbine in the loop. You could even take the top end through a desalinisation plant for an agricultural or potable water supply. The pipe won't be crushed because the pressure at depth will be equalised inside and outside the pipe. The only problem might be crap being sucked into the pipe, but I'm sure there are technical solutions for that. Ocean currents are basically giant hydraulic systems anyway.

Yes I know you still have to get the power to where it will be used, but the current situation isn't much different anyway. You already have power lines stretching hundreds of miles, you already have trans-continental oil and gas pipelines.

Re:Why use all these wires ? (3, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579543)

Uh, no. You can't get any energy out of the pressure difference in the atmosphere or ocean. The pressure difference is there because the medium has already adjusted to the lowest energy state. You cant milk any more energy out of a system that is already at lowest equilibrium.

Re:Why use all these wires ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28579705)

http://www.energysavers.gov/renewable_energy/ocean/index.cfm/mytopic=50010 [energysavers.gov] Temperature differences are probably a better way to go, where pumping the colder water from the depths provides much more energy than it takes.

captain's opinion (1)

Max_W (812974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579467)

In addition to half-submerged loose containers, which infest navigable waters nowadays, we will have these generators, drifting around after a storm.

Damage to boats, caused by these extremely dangerous items in the oceans, will cancel environmental gains thousand times over.

Re:captain's opinion (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579643)

You just need a group of trained sharks, with frikin'' lazers on on their heads. problem solved.

So ridiculous (3, Interesting)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579531)

These well-meaning schemes still founder on the basic problems of working in a salt-water environment and the issue of a very dilute energy source.
You can't make a generator that works directly off ocean-swells-- the swells come by so slowly you'd need a coil inductance of about ten thousand Henries.

  A simple loop of wire, as postulated, has about a millionth of that.

Plus you need considerable iron to channel the magnetic flux. No way around it.

Regarding the kites, figure out what the very lightest generator weighs, per watt. Hint: not under 30 kilos per KW. Now assume you want to power 100 houses, say 50 KW.
  Figure out the size of the kite needed to lift than many tons. Now at a 30 degree kitestring angle, the pull on the string will be twice the weight of the kite. Figure out how
much 60,000 feet of kite string that will take that kind of stress weighs. Now you need another large kite just to hold up the kite string.

And BTW, the "high speed" winds up there are not a panacea. They're high speed but low in density. The energy is, again, very dilute. You need to at least double the size of the kite to get the same amount of lift and pull as you can get at low altitudes.
.

Re:So ridiculous (1)

Weh (219305) | more than 5 years ago | (#28582599)

I'm not an expert on electro-magnetism but I know a bit about ocean waves. The swell typically has a period in the range of 5-15 seconds depending on location and depth, taking into consideration the wave height you can easily work out that there will be a fair bit of variation/acceleration at the buoy. Also, keep in mind that the waves generally aren't regular waves but part of a seastate that consists of various components with different periods, heights and directions. Personally I don't expect much from this idea, it is too complex and probably too expensive. All I'm saying is that I think that you under-estimate the energy content of waves a bit.

Fuck it (4, Insightful)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28579559)

I say we just keep burning old tires to heat our homes and be done with it...

I'm sick of all the bogus reasons people come up with why something isn't going to work when they have no fucking idea what the are talking about.

It's not cost effective - No shit because no one is making 50 million of them yet.
It's going to change the weather - Ahh yeah and so does standing outside on a windy day jackass.
It's going to hurt the sea life - Ahh yeah and so does all the trash we dump in the ocean every day and don't forget about all the dead zones from algae overgrowth caused by fertilizer and raw sewage.

Get some fucking prospective people.. We already are killing the planet.

Step 1 is to learn to kill it sloooower.
Step 2 is improve step on step 1.
Step 3 is to get the fuck out of here.
Step 4 ????
Step 5 Profit FOREVER.

Re:Fuck it (1)

slas6654 (996022) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580489)

Ah, but what fun would it be for us when you energy anti-establishmentarianists get a free pass? Come on, do you think Slashdot would drink the Sierra Club kool-aid?

Re:Fuck it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28582851)

Perspective

less people = more resources available per person.

Pretty simple (1)

Torino10 (1369453) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580281)

I think the idea of lifting a generator on a kite is absurd, however, the Ladder mill concept, or any other scheme involving a reciprocating airfoil or flight path can be utilized by a generator on the ground to take advantage of variations on the tension of the tether to generate electricity. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2008/aug/01/electric.kite [guardian.co.uk]

Don't tell the CIA (0, Troll)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580587)

I'm surprised this was brought up publicly because everyone knows the CIA is hell bent to make sure any carbon neutral energy source never takes hold. It's oil and war forever for us, baby.

Already moving into test offshore from Wales (1)

whitroth (9367) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580805)

With a 1MW trial set for next year.

              mark

And it's a carnival ride too! (1)

ankhank (756164) | more than 5 years ago | (#28580913)

Ya know the old trick of putting a square of paper on a kite string so it rides up the string to the top?
(Also done more elaborately so it drops a parachute toy once it hits a trigger at the top, or carries a candle up at night, and many other variations).

I'd love to see huge "flying wing" kites tethered at 30K feet -- that'd mean tether material strong enough to handle the forces involved (or else when the string breaks it drags across Oregon from Portland to Pocatello tearing up everything in between, before the kite hits the ground somewhere in Wyoming).

Heck, it's a small step toward the space elevator.

Prior Art. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28582683)

http://www.makanipower.com/vision.html

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