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Re-Purposing the Netherlands' Dike System For Power Generation

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the let's-go-dutch dept.

Power 132

vikingpower writes "Built in reaction to a major flood that killed 1,800 in the '50s, the Dutch system of dikes, sluices, surge barriers, and dams has been dubbed 'one of the seven wonders of the modern world' by the American Society of Engineers. Now there are proposals to use the system differently, e.g. as tidal power plants, by punching holes in them. Any civil engineer's mouth will probably be watering when thinking of the mega-projects this could give rise to."

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132 comments

This is a Great Idea (3, Funny)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#31965552)

This is a great idea! All of the dykes I know are very powerful women indeed! Genious!

(Yeah, yeah, I know, bad taste, but c'mon someone had to go there.)

Re:This is a Great Idea (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965560)

Guess doing all those Kegel exercises has even more benefits than expected.

Re:This is a Great Idea (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965660)

The only problem is that you have to plan around the dyke's power surge which lasts about one week a month.

Re:This is a Great Idea (0)

bipbop (1144919) | about 4 years ago | (#31966020)

Well, no, they didn't. But did you really expect to be the only one? Seems like at least 80% of the replies.

Re:This is a Great Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31966252)

I digg your comment... Especially since it is labeled as offtopic :-).

now now now... (0, Offtopic)

racecarj (703239) | about 4 years ago | (#31965608)

let's be serious, if we're talking about power generation it all depends on the types of dykes being used. and there are trade offs... while butch dykes certainly generate more power, girly ones are more pleasing overall. i think the dutch should go with a combination of the latter combined with nuclear power.

Re:now now now... (0, Offtopic)

arjan_t (1655161) | about 4 years ago | (#31965626)

Ever seen a Dutch woman? The average ones aren't really small and certainly not girly. The Dutch dykes were build to last :P

No, it's a lousy idea (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965614)

Salt water engineering is expensive and more bad jokes coming -
extracting energy from dykes with a low head is inefficient.

Get 10m or so height difference and it's all good, 1 or 2 m which is all this looks like holding is
just an expensive world of pain. The energy needed for maintenance (corrosion/weed/lifeform clearing)
will probably be more than is ever generated.

Re:No, it's a lousy idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965990)

'...dykes with a low head...'

I love dykes with a low head.

Great idea (4, Funny)

rve (4436) | about 4 years ago | (#31965628)

This is a great idea. Sure, it seems like a waste of all the resources and energy put into building those dikes and keeping that land dry, but the madness can't go on forever. Natural selection will eventually take care of a land based species that prefers to live below sea level.

The Netherlands are the most environmentally unfriendly country in the world. Do you have any idea how much water the country displaces? And how much fossil fuel is burned to fuel the pumps needed to keep the sea from flowing back. Giving this country back to the sea would cancel out decades of sea level rise. It would also save the more than 80 gigaton oil equivalent per year in energy that country uses. Inundating the place and turning the entire country into an alternative energy source seems like a nice way to give something back to mother nature.

Re:Great idea (1, Troll)

arjan_t (1655161) | about 4 years ago | (#31965662)

The Netherlands are the most environmentally unfriendly country in the world.

Yeah, all that cycling around instead of riding cars is really bad for the environment. And those windmills they historically used to keep the land (polders) dry... oh man, that really must have dealt some blows to the environment...

Re:Great idea (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965698)

The parent poster does have a point. The article itself even refers (quite vaguely) to the effects this system of dams, sluices, etc. is having on the environment. It's a severe disruption of how things *should* be, resulting in stagnating water, algae blooms, floods, and, in general, killing off the natural ecosystem inherent to lakes, seas and rivers.

Re:Great idea (1)

rve (4436) | about 4 years ago | (#31965718)

The world renowned Dutch sense of humour will ensure that once the sea reclaims the land, the former occupants will find a generous, warm welcome on dry land

Re:Great idea (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31965734)

As long as they bring their weed with them... That and some decent, really old Gouda, which I can't seem to get around here. So, bring the right stuff, and you can have room and board with me :)

Re:Great idea (4, Funny)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | about 4 years ago | (#31965778)

The world renowned Dutch sense of humour

The Dutch are renowned for many things, a sense of humour isn't one of them. Unless you were trying to be funny, in which case I stand corrected.

Re:Great idea (1)

mpe (36238) | about 4 years ago | (#31966372)

And those windmills they historically used to keep the land (polders) dry

Windmills which directly ran the pumps. No doubt there's going to be some joker to advise electric pumps driven by wind turbines...

Re:Great idea (0, Flamebait)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 4 years ago | (#31967386)

And those windmills they historically used to keep the land (polders) dry... oh man, that really must have dealt some blows to the environment...

Windmills have always bothered me as a potentially horrific source of damage to the environment, and I really wonder if the mad dash to throw them up everywhere hasn't been a mistake.

Think about it for a second, windmills literally suck energy out of the wind - wind that goes places and does things and is absolutely critical for most ecosystems on the planet to survive. Now, there may be absolutely nothing wrong with them at all, but it seems like we've just been rushing to use them without looking into the potential consequences. Isn't that the exact same mistake we made with oil?

And now the hot thing is to fuck with the tides. In the Netherlands they've already destroyed their coastal environment, so I can't see how putting in tidal generators would hurt anything, but these same groups of people are talking about tapping the Gulf Stream. That thing drives oceanic weather all around the globe and is literally the life blood of the Atlantic Ocean; weakening it too much just seems like a really really bad idea. The first few may be just fine, but there is going to be a point where you do damage with this stuff, and in our rush to be "Green" we could very well do things that are far more destructive than fossil fuels ever could be.

Re:Great idea (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31967870)

Do you even know enough to substantiate your claims? I suggest you start by calculating the amount of energy present in the motion of air around the globe, then determine what fraction of that windmills remove. It's likely less than 1% by a good margin. It's not going to have a real effect.

Re:Great idea (2, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 years ago | (#31968022)

Think about it for a second, windmills literally suck energy out of the wind - wind that goes places and does things and is absolutely critical for most ecosystems on the planet to survive. Now, there may be absolutely nothing wrong with them at all, but it seems like we've just been rushing to use them without looking into the potential consequences. Isn't that the exact same mistake we made with oil?

- I believe this has been looked at but a brief consultation with the Oracle didn't realize any obvious results. Perhaps I didn't feed it enough electrons.

- The gist of the argument for deciding that there is no possible (or no likely, depending on how you trust these sorts of back of the email type calculations) significant disruption of the global ecosphere is thus:

Wind turbines sit perhaps 30 - 100 meters above the ground.
- The trophosphere [physicalgeography.net] , or bottom of the atmosphere, contains most of the weather, water and likely energy. This goes up to around 10 km. The next layer, the stratosphere goes to about 50 km.
- Even if you took a significant swath of energy out of the 100 meters or so that a wind turbine straddles, that comprises and infinitesimal amount of total energy of the system.
- For those of you inclined to argue about butterflies flapping their wings and causing hurricanes, I would point out that the wind turbines may change things but that change is buried in the statistical noise.

Or some similar handwaving argument.

Re:Great idea (4, Funny)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | about 4 years ago | (#31965760)

Too little too late sir, I say we nuke Belgium to a depth of fifteen meters and fill that in instead.

Who's with me?!

More seriously though, how would this work, wouldn't they need to pump the water out afterwards, or are they hoping for tidal flow forces to do that for them?

Re:Great idea (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965818)

More seriously though, how would this work, wouldn't they need to pump the water out afterwards, or are they hoping for tidal flow forces to do that for them?

As per TFA:

A hole in the Brouwersdam, for example, would allow for tides as high as 50 centimetres. The opening would make an ideal site for a tidal power plant, which is also being considered by the committee.

And this isn't exactly a new concept either, France has had one since 1966: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rance_Tidal_Power_Station
To be fair though, there's a 13 meter tide there instead of a mere 50 centimetres.

Re:Great idea (2, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 4 years ago | (#31966274)

Too little too late sir, I say we nuke Belgium to a depth of fifteen meters and fill that in instead.

The article is about dykes, and you are calling for the Enola Gay?

Re:Great idea (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965768)

Laugh, great suggestion. My apartment is in a building that's about 4m below sea level, so that means I'd be able to kayak to work directly from the lounge room. Awesome!

Page 55 of the 2006 IEA "Key World Energy Statistics" shows that the per-capita energy use in the Netherlands is on different measures, somewhere between 0.5 and 0.75 of the USA's.

Re:Great idea (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965856)

What the fuck is wrong with the moderators that thought this insightful?
There is no madness in it at all. There is no, I repeat, no fossil fuel burned to keep the sea from flowing back. If you believe that then you must not have understood what a dyke is.

The reason OP says it would save oil, is because the country would be more than halved.
OP is either deluded or making a not-so-great joke.

Re:Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965926)

What the fuck is wrong with the moderators that thought this insightful?
There is no madness in it at all. There is no, I repeat, no fossil fuel burned to keep the sea from flowing back. If you believe that then you must not have understood what a dyke is.

Then how exactly is the water that inevitably seeps through the dikes returned through the sea?

Perhaps you thought a dike was a magically impermeable barrier that kept every single droplet of water out once it was built?

Idiot.

Re:Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965964)

Perhaps you think water is a magical liquid that has zero vapor pressure?

Re:Great idea (1)

M8e (1008767) | about 4 years ago | (#31966006)

Guess what, they have windmills everywhere for a reason.

Re:Great idea (1)

bsane (148894) | about 4 years ago | (#31966194)

WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!

Some extra text so I can shout and still get around the filter...

Re:Great idea (1)

M8e (1008767) | about 4 years ago | (#31967214)

THEY ARE NOT WINDMILLS THEY ARE WINDPUMPS!

Yeah shouting is fun, BAD BAD shoutfilter. Some additional text.

Re:Great idea (1)

rve (4436) | about 4 years ago | (#31966220)

Quite right. Once you build a dike, through capillary action the water behind it will automatically seep out of the land and into the sea, leaving dry land 20 ft below sea level behind it. The same is true for the plentiful fresh water flowing into the hole from the many rivers and the 300 days of rain a year. No powered pumping required at all.

Re:Great idea (1)

houghi (78078) | about 4 years ago | (#31966038)

Fuel? They use windmills [freefoto.com] so that their wooden shoes [rwongphoto.com] don't get wet. Sure, in the Netherlands everybody walks around like this [panoramio.com] .

Well. Except the hookers and drug dealers, that is. So about 50%.

Re:Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31966444)

I can't say if it is still true, but I lived in Holland for close to a year about a decade ago and some of the older rural folk really did wear those big wooden shoes. Given it was my first trip to Holland, I'd eaten a spacecake and was really stoned the first time I saw them, nearly died laughing.

Re:Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31967294)

More like this [kennislink.nl] (second image) ;-)

Re:Great idea (0)

stiller (451878) | about 4 years ago | (#31966246)

This. Is. Hilarious. Either you are very funny or very misinformed.
To get back to the article, I scanned it but couldn't find anything on tidal power proposals. Only ecologically motivated changes on a local level.

Don't Be Fooled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965636)

Those civils aren't salivating because they're thinking of an amazing project – they're just drooling like always. There should be spit-wipes in their fanny-packs. Make sure not to mess with the chinstraps on their helmets or they get agitated.

Can I watch? (1, Offtopic)

Google85 (797021) | about 4 years ago | (#31965666)

while they "generate power"?!

It sounds like a good idea.. but might get really hot... how do they propose to cool that?

Re:Can I watch? (1)

Born2bwire (977760) | about 4 years ago | (#31965800)

Simple my good man. In addition to the power generators, a complex system of air conditioners will be built along side to cool things down. These air conditioners of course cannot be run off of the power being generated as that would be a lose-lose situation. Instead, a new modern oil consuming power plant will be built in some nice open wetlands (I'm sure they have some that can be exploited) to power the new air conditioners. This will of course produce a bevy of new jobs most needed in the current economic climate. What a wonderful modern age we live in.

Punching holes in dykes? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965692)

As a Dutch citizen, I'd like to give this Dyke plan the finger ;-)

(Well, at least until someone can assure me the cost/benefit analysis plays out well.)

Shut up you humorless idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965706)

It's an obvious joke and it isn't funny. Great job on showing that reading anything on Slashdot is pointless for anybody more emotionally-developed than Comic Book Store Guy, though.

Re:Shut up you humorless idiots (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965766)

Slashdot isn't funny because it's run by a bunch of PERL-running Christians and a Jew.

Where is the real science, like that of The discovery of the missing link? [erectuswalksamongst.us]

Editors can't tell a dyke from a dike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965870)

Does NOT leaving a drool trail disqualify one from Slashdot employment?

I dunno... (0, Offtopic)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 4 years ago | (#31965896)

I thought being a dyke was not a choice. I don't think the dykes are likely to go along with being re-purposed.
Just in case I'm wrong though, you can send me a couple of the lipstick ones and I promise to generate a lot energy with them.

dyke system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31967038)

Yeah, I'm sure re-purposing dykes will generate cash flow via porn, etc., but that's not the same as generating power, your just generating money for buying power.

A beowulf cluster of those... (1, Funny)

Bazzargh (39195) | about 4 years ago | (#31965924)

If we got hundreds of civil engineers together and told them about this, just think what we could power with their watering mouths!

Oh I've set them off again...

Re-Purposing the Netherlands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965928)

Who else read this as "Re-Purposing the Netherlands: Dyke System For Power Generation"?

Dear Editor (1, Troll)

beadfulthings (975812) | about 4 years ago | (#31965956)

Would you kindly look at a dictionary?

dike: an embankment for controlling or holding back the sea

dyke: disparaging term for a lesbian

New low in ignorance and carelessness for Slashdot.

Re:Dear Editor (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31965978)

For those of us that don't speak American there is no such word as dike - only dyke for both meanings.

Re:Dear Editor (4, Insightful)

Paul Jakma (2677) | about 4 years ago | (#31966008)

The word is dyke in dutch (well, more or less) and in its closest english speaking neighbour.

Try learn about the rest of the world before making yourself sound like an myopic, "World Series" looking idiot.

Re:Dear Editor (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | about 4 years ago | (#31966066)

That may well be so, but last time I checked, Slashdot was published in English. I don't resemble the World Series at all, though I do confess to being nearsighted.

Re:Dear Editor (2, Insightful)

Paul Jakma (2677) | about 4 years ago | (#31966122)

Are you really unaware that there are variants of english out there other than US english?

Re:Dear Editor (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | about 4 years ago | (#31966152)

U.S. English is itself a variant. However, when in Rome, shoot Roman candles...

I'm going to ignore the rest of this ridiculous exchange and go out to enjoy the beautiful day.

Re:Dear Editor (1)

Splab (574204) | about 4 years ago | (#31966486)

Really, so when you are in Denmark you turn to canibalism?

Did you know most Irish don't know what Irish coffee is?

Re:Dear Editor (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#31967494)

    That's a bold faced like. There's only one English, and it's the one our president authorizes. We took control of the the colonies and of the language named as "English" with our almost peaceful rebellion. At any rate, with a population of 61.8 million in the UK, and 307 million in the US, it's very clear that we now maintain the largest English speaking population so through our fine democratic process it will be obvious that since the majority of English speakers speak American English (only noted to differentiate from those other pesky dialects), it is the true English.

Re:Dear Editor (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#31966176)

Are you really unaware that there are variants of english out there other than US english?

Are you really unaware that in US English, the language in which this website is published, dike means what you hold water back with, and dyke means lesbian? You say "The word is dyke in dutch" but we're not speaking Dutch here. You say "and in its closest english speaking neighbour." but Slashdot is an American creation and its readership is primarily American. Thus, this is an utter fail. Here's a hint for you: Typically, when you use a word from another language, we set it off in italics to denote the change... so no matter what, this is a case of typical slashdot editing incompetence.

Re:Dear Editor (2, Funny)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 years ago | (#31966404)

It doesn't matter. After Reagan they stopped teaching US English in most places because Ebonics was cheaper :)
Having arguments about spelling here is a waste of time propagated by those that think the ultimate in English language studies is a spelling bee and have never gotten as far as reading anything old enough to have this stupid spelling obsession beaten out of them. It's not their fault since it's due to education cutbacks and self-study is difficult without time and a decent library.
Yes, it was a stupid typo and quite funny but we all knew what it really meant by the context.

Re:Dear Editor (2, Interesting)

mpe (36238) | about 4 years ago | (#31966416)

Are you really unaware that in US English, the language in which this website is published, dike means what you hold water back with, and dyke means lesbian?

A better US Translation might be "levee"...

Re:Dear Editor (1)

Paul Jakma (2677) | about 4 years ago | (#31966440)

You're full of fail.

The linked to article, from which the submitter (who may well not be USAsian) and hence presumably the editor took the spelling is from a *dutch* publisher. Further, the dutch were primarily taught GB english in the past, though younger generations of dutch seem to tend toward US english.

This isn't about which variant of english should be used though. This is simply about the lack of *awareness* of the existence of other variants by USAsians.

Finally, /. draws from news internationally and has an international readership, as should be self-evident from this article.

The /. editors have since gone and revised the text of the leader.

Re:Dear Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31966646)

Excuse me, but what the fuck is a "USAsian"? Is that a word you just made up? How do you even pronounce it?

BTW, you find one American (which is what we're usually called) using that term or even "USian". Its dumb and makes no sense whatsover.

Re:Dear Editor (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 years ago | (#31966948)

The linked to article, from which the submitter (who may well not be USAsian)

Congratulations, you've discovered an even more retarded way to refer to residents of Estados Unidos Norteamericanos than "Americans". You win TEH PRIZE!11!1!11!1ones!1!!

and hence presumably the editor took the spelling is from a *dutch* publisher.

But since it did not appear in quotation marks, it was not presented as a quotation, and thus it should have been edited to reflect the local language.

Further, the dutch were primarily taught GB english in the past,

Still irrelevant.

though younger generations of dutch seem to tend toward US english.

Also irrelevant.

This isn't about which variant of english should be used though. This is simply about the lack of *awareness* of the existence of other variants

You are such a tool. The average slashdot resident knows that there's other variants if for no reason other than that they've seen the en-GB locale go by during install.

by USAsians.

There's that fag talk again, now, we talked about that.

Finally, /. draws from news internationally and has an international readership, as should be self-evident from this article.

Still irrelevant, since it's a USA site, with USA editors.

The /. editors have since gone and revised the text of the leader.

Further proof that you are just being a wanker.

Re:Dear Editor (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#31967554)

Estados Unidos Norteamericanos

You spelled that wrong. Since the (mostly) peaceful invasion was completed, it is now known as Los grandes Estados del Norte de México

Re:Dear Editor (1)

rve (4436) | about 4 years ago | (#31966858)

Actually, I think in Dutch it's probably something like waaterbonkenwaapenflaapen. This thread is a case of someone trying to elevate the UK English of TFA to a world standard.

The English language is open source . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#31966222)

And it has been "forked" multiple times. Spelling inconsistencies and semantic ambiguity are unavoidable. People speaking English outside their native countries need to be aware of this.

I like to think of it as having a big set of #ifdef's in my head. Like code that runs on multiple platforms.

When someone in an international arena says something that is unintentionally amusing, I check my #ifdef's. That usually clears everything up.

One example off the top of my head: A British chick walks into a hotel in the US, and asks the clerk, "Can you knock me up in the morning?"

Being that is a pleasant day here in central Europe, I'm going to go out for a bike ride, and like little Dutch kids, stick my fingers in some dijken. (I used the Dutch word to avoid any puerile associations).

Of course, the big joke here is that the story of the Dutch boy, is a fictional account by an American author.

Re:The English language is open source . . . (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 4 years ago | (#31966298)

A British chick walks into a hotel in the US, and asks the clerk, "Can you knock me up in the morning?"

I don't think that's very likely: she'd ask for an alarm call. She'd be much more likely to cause consternation by popping out to smoke a fag.

Re:Dear Editor (5, Funny)

pjt33 (739471) | about 4 years ago | (#31966302)

That may well be so, but last time I checked, Slashdot was published in English.

Speaking as an Englishman, I suggest you check again.

Meriam Webster, Oxford Dictionary (2, Informative)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 4 years ago | (#31966796)

I wasn't sure myself, so I decided to check it out:
  - According to the Meriam Webster Dyke is the British spelling of Dike: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dyke [merriam-webster.com] .
  - The Oxford Dictionary agrees: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/dyke_1?view=uk [askoxford.com] , though the same spelling can also mean lesbian: http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/dyke_2?view=uk [askoxford.com]

So, depending where you are either spelling will do.

Re:Dear Editor (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about 4 years ago | (#31966798)

You are the myopic one if you can't see that dykes are World Series looking. But I suppose you don't get much sun in the nether regions.

Re:Dear Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31967508)

The word is dyke in dutch (well, more or less)

"More or less" is always a good approach when bitching about spelling.

Re:Dear Editor (1)

jonadab (583620) | about 4 years ago | (#31966208)

Actually, dike/dyke is one of many English words with more than one accepted spelling. The spelling with the y has become less common in recent decades, but it has never passed entirely out of use, and there are still some people who consider it "more correct", though descriptive dictionaries generally disagree, as the spelling with the i has become more common.

You can see this same phenomenon with doughnut/donut; modern descriptive dictionaries consider both to be correct, and "donut" has become the more common spelling these days, although some pedants still consider it an aberration and prefer the older spelling.

Re:Dear Editor (1)

mpe (36238) | about 4 years ago | (#31966436)

Actually, dike/dyke is one of many English words with more than one accepted spelling.

Probably another of those things about spelling which Noah Webster (who appears to be responsible for quite a bit of the spelling differences between US English and just about any other English dialect) had issues with.

You can see this same phenomenon with doughnut/donut; modern descriptive dictionaries consider both to be correct, and "donut" has become the more common spelling these days,

Another explanation would be display signs, the shorter the word the bigger text you can use for a given size of sign...

Re:Dear Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31966278)

dyke. noun (also dike). 1 an embankment used to prevent flooding. 2 a ditch. 3 a low wall of turf or stone. 4 (slang) a lesbian.

(Oxford English Dictionary)

Are we going to have a pissing contest now to decide whose dictionary is correct?

the dyke system? (0, Offtopic)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 years ago | (#31966068)

So some 'civil' engineers think that dykes can generate all that power?

Maybe the same should be suggested to the mayor of Toronto, imagine all the power they could generate there during a pride week!

This reminds me of a related idea.. (3, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | about 4 years ago | (#31966232)

Some years ago, I saw a news item on a proposal to flood the sahara by digging a canal through Libya, and powering pretty much all of North Africa and Southern Europe with electricity generated by turbines in the canals. As I recall, it was supposed to drop the world sea level by about a foot or so.

-jcr

Re:This reminds me of a related idea.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31966484)

Some years ago, I saw a news item on a proposal to flood the sahara by digging a canal through Libya, and powering pretty much all of North Africa and Southern Europe with electricity generated by turbines in the canals.

A brilliant plan, foiled only by the annoying fact that water does not flow uphill.

Re:This reminds me of a related idea.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31966552)

Some years ago, I saw a news item on a proposal to flood the sahara by digging a canal through Libya, and powering pretty much all of North Africa and Southern Europe with electricity generated by turbines in the canals.

A brilliant plan, foiled only by the irritating fact that water does not flow uphill.

Re:This reminds me of a related idea.. (3, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about 4 years ago | (#31967330)

The Earth has 361,132,000 km^2 of water.
The Sahara is over 9,000,000 km^2

So, if we want to drop the sea level by a foot, we need to siphon off 110,073.034 km^3. To do that, we need to lower the entire Sahara to 12.2 meters below sea level. Probably 12.5 meters to get the sea to fall that extra foot.

Good idea, but where exactly are we going to put those 110,000 km^3 of material? We can't dump it into the ocean for obvious reasons. Also, those 110,000 km^3 are just the stuff you need do dig away, once we've made the entire Sahara flat and given it a height of 0 meters.

Every meter of average height of the desert, adds another 9,000 km^3 of material to haul away.

To put that into perspective - if we build an equilateral square pyramid with a volume of 110,000 km^3, its surface area would be 77 km on each side (6,016 km^2) and would be 54,848 meters tall.

Sure, it might lower the sea level by a foot, and it would certainly keep a lot people employed for the foreseeable future, and I suppose a 54,848 meter tall pyramid on the equator would make for a great launch pad into space ... but at the same time I don't see that any government or company would ever want to sponsor this kind of project.

Oh, and just for kicks. Suppose we only wanted to move this mountain of material one meter. How much energy would be required? Assuming that instead of a mix of sand and bed rock it's actually water, we now have to move 1.1 × 10^17 kg 1 meter. This works out as 1.08 exa-joules. In 2008 the entire world used 474 exa joules. Even if we used all the the energy avaialble to us in 2008, we could only move this mass less than half a kilometer.

So ... in theory it might be possible to do this, but it's also theoretically possible to dig a tunnel all the way through the Earth. But the practicalities of both of these ideas are quite bitchy.

Re:This reminds me of a related idea.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31967836)

Good idea, but where exactly are we going to put those 110,000 km^3 of material?

Give it to the Dutch. Or put it into a Dyson sphere. Or bury Sony under it.

Re:This reminds me of a related idea.. (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31968030)

Don't worry - I'll have that pyramid built as my burial ground after I finally declare myself Eternal God-Emperor of the World, the Universe and All The Rest. Shorter sides and higher, though. And what's with that bitchin' about the energy? Prepare for the whip, suckers!

Dike system... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31966396)

... not dyke system... dam!

leed.ge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31966644)

nice news , Guess what.

I assume tha by "50s" .... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 4 years ago | (#31967154)

...Vikingpower means the 850s. There was major construction in the 1950s but development started over 1100 years ago and there has been a continous line since about 1250.

Bad efficiency, bad idea (1)

ericferris (1087061) | about 4 years ago | (#31967306)

Tidal power plants are not new. See La Rance in France, an old project that stayed experimental because of numerous problems.

Basically, you get a very low efficiency because you have to generate power with low-pressure water due tu a small height difference; Also, salt water is not easy on turbines. This means you have a sizable investment and high maintenance costs that have to be amortized on a pitiful amount of power. A bad idea.

This is a bounty for whoever sold this pie-in-the-sky idea to the Dutch. For every one else, a disaster. It'll end up with the taxpayers sponging off the red ink, as usual.

Re:Bad efficiency, bad idea (1)

NNKK (218503) | about 4 years ago | (#31967564)

Also, salt water is not easy on turbines.

Has anyone considered using something other than metal, then? Or coating the metal turbine in some other material? The coating wouldn't even have to last the life of the turbine, just long enough to extend the life of the turbine to an economical length.

Better yet, maybe someone could come up with a design other than a classical turbine. The fact that you can't get good results by using existing designs in new situations isn't particularly interesting. If X doesn't work in situation Y, invent something that will.

Re:Bad efficiency, bad idea (1)

ericferris (1087061) | about 4 years ago | (#31967960)

Believe me, the next guy who invents a better turbine is going to make a name for himself. It's not like nobody is looking for improvements. It's just that the physics is tough.

You can look online for "ceramic turbine" and "diamond coating" to get an idea of the current state of material science.

Re:Bad efficiency, bad idea (1)

icegreentea (974342) | about 4 years ago | (#31967994)

Look, using non-metallic parts/coating may work. But seriously, I think some people are overblowing the difficulty of salt water turbines. I mean, most ships today are turbine powered... it's basically a floating turbine generator backwards. It's an added design constraint, but it's a solvable (and largely solved) problem I would think. I mean, the Bay of Fundy already has a barrage style tidal plant operating. And the Atlantic on our side is more or less as salty as the Atlantic on the other side.

The bigger problem is just how little power gets stored up. A height difference of 50cm isn't very large, even with such a large reservoir size.

Bring back the Dykes!! (0, Redundant)

haruchai (17472) | about 4 years ago | (#31968202)

I was thinking about flooding some Dutch Dykes when someone corrected the spelling in the article's title.

DANG!!

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