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US Uncorks $16M For 17 Projects To Capture Wave Energy

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the time-and-tide dept.

Earth 132

coondoggie writes "The US Energy Department this week said it would spend $16 million for seventeen projects to help research and develop energy generating systems from waves, tides and currents. The energy agency says the US could generate up to 1,400 terawatt hours of potential power per year. One terawatt-hour of electricity is enough to power 85,000 homes, according to the agency."

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Is wave energy the next wave of energy? (0)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about a year ago | (#44731811)

And so on and so forth...

Re:Is wave energy the next wave of energy? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year ago | (#44732481)

And so on and so forth...

But can it be patented since it is essentially a perpetual motion device that every patent office official knows is impossible?

Less than $1m each? (5, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44731819)

Doesn't seem like a lot of money for tidal power. Scotland is already way ahead and invests more than that.

Still, better than nothing.

Re:Less than $1m each? (1)

Yew2 (1560829) | about a year ago | (#44731989)

119m homes? Yea, Id throw every penny at it but maybe since its "research" we are paying salaries and office space (you know that chargeback/funny money stuff they do in companies?) and not much capex. wonder if the fossil fuel industry is gonna like it - or if this is a smear mission...

Re:Less than $1m each? (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#44732261)

Doesn't seem like a lot of money for tidal power.

Trillions for wars/spying on the public. Billions for waging a "war on drugs" and the militarization of police forces. $16 million for energy research, something that would fix the economy and kick-start all sorts of amazing technologies.

Re:Less than $1m each? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year ago | (#44732495)

Doesn't seem like a lot of money for tidal power.

Trillions for wars/spying on the public. Billions for waging a "war on drugs" and the militarization of police forces. $16 million for energy research, something that would fix the economy and kick-start all sorts of amazing technologies.

Don't forget zero money for zero energy.

Re:Less than $1m each? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732523)

Better than nothing? Hard to say. I'd imagine nothing is better than something at this point. It's these "small" investments with no real ROI goals that end up sucking up our economy. Oh well, not like there's any way we can ever pay off $20 trillion anyways.

Re:Less than $1m each? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44734261)

It's these "small" investments with no real ROI goals that end up sucking up our economy

It's as much as 16 soldiers costs to train and equip. I know the human brain doesn't really understand the difference between a million and a trillion but let me assure you that it is a crazy huge difference. Like a trillion is a million times bigger than a million.

Re: Less than $1m each? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44734437)

You might be from the UK. For Americans (and Canadians) a trillion is a thousand million (1,000,000,000 or 10^9), not a million million (10^12).

Re: Less than $1m each? (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about a year ago | (#44734523)

You might be from the UK. For Americans (and Canadians) a trillion is a thousand million (1,000,000,000 or 10^9), not a million million (10^12).

You are thinking of a billion there. A trillion is 10^12 or 10^18, depending on where you live.

Re:Less than $1m each? (3, Insightful)

supernova87a (532540) | about a year ago | (#44732595)

It's a good thing that we fund more alternative energy development projects, especially given the absolute crap kinds of things that we as a country are throwing our tax dollars into recently. However, it is important to be upfront that wave power has among the worst cost effectiveness of any of the alternative energy technologies, i.e. solar, wind, geothermal, etc.

If you look at the LCOE (levelized cost of energy, basically the evened-out cost per energy taking into account installation, operation, transportation, etc), wave energy is an order of magnitude bad.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source#Analysis_from_different_sources [wikipedia.org]

That being said, of course any technology needs research to help to bring it down in cost and become a reasonable option. But the current cost also just reflects that there is a portion of cost that cannot be easily reduced, because of the inevitable difficulty of the marine environment, generating power there (maintaining these contraptions), and getting the power to land.

Re:Less than $1m each? (2)

supernova87a (532540) | about a year ago | (#44732599)

And just to follow on -- at a certain point where the technology has gone as far as it can, and still costs this much, you are better off putting those research dollars into other technologies or removing barriers to the ones that are at least affordable in the commercialization stage.

Re:Less than $1m each? (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year ago | (#44732735)

Doesn't seem like a lot of money for tidal power. Scotland is already way ahead and invests more than that.

Still, better than nothing.

Exactly what I was thinking. Seems like there would be a much better chance for success if the 16M went to a single project.

Re:Less than $1m each? (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about a year ago | (#44732849)

Scotland is way ahead and therefore invests more than that? Which is the cause, and which the effect?

Better yet, why doesn't the DOE just ask Scotland what it's up to? Sounds like a stupid waste of money.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, will quantify the distribution, behavioral response, and general patterns of fish movement around an operating tidal energy turbine. The research team will conduct an analysis of individual fish movements using previously unanalyzed sonar data collected at Verdant Power's Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project, located in the East River near Manhattan. This study will provide the industry with a complete analysis of fish interaction data at a fullâsize turbine that developers and regulators can use to estimate the likelihood of encounter and injury at tidal and riverine sites. The tools refined in this study will be widely applicable to other sites and conditions, and the results from this study will be used to refine estimates of potential effects, design mitigation to minimize impacts, and develop monitoring protocol. DOE Funding: $95,000. Total Project Value: $132,000.

Oh, these are specific grants to specific institutions and companies with established tech to figure out how to improve efficiency and lower impact on the environment. I guess I'll go be outraged that Scotland hasn't spent public funds to do this sort of things.

Wee, it's no wonder (5, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year ago | (#44731825)

With $16M spread across 17 projects, it's no wonder that STEM jobs are underpaid. Then again, with all the billions being wasted on spying (on US citizens as well as foreigners), it no wonder there is so little left for projects which might actually benefit mankind.

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44731959)

I was about the say the same thing.
This is harebrained scheming money, not something that can deliver even a back-of-the-envelope design money.

Still, you can't say STEM jobs would be underpaid, sinc this is something you would take on with, maybe 3 to 5 guys from different backgrounds sitting around and bullshitting up a system in three to six months. Just under a 200K for half a years work.

For this kind of money, nobody expects it to actually work, or even have complete plans.

Re: Wee, it's no wonder (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#44732061)

One of two outcomes here:

1. Money is given in phases for each set of completed research goals.

Or

2. It's a scheme to nickle and dime the tax payer with the never ending promise of "we're so close, we just need some more funding" all while on the 10th round of funding already.

Re: Wee, it's no wonder (4, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year ago | (#44732395)

2. It's a scheme to nickle and dime the tax payer with the never ending promise of "we're so close, we just need some more funding" all while on the 10th round of funding already.

It does sound like a nickel and dime job, except for the lack of a nickel or dime: they're barely willing to spend a cent on it.

Ever get involved with work for Uncle Sam? The paperwork is appalling, starting with all the regulatory compliance issues (as indicated in mveloso's post below). The entire investment would be absorbed by bullshit overhead (project management, budget oversight, regulatory oversight, etc.) before a single STEM worker could get hired to actually do any of the work.

Re: Wee, it's no wonder (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year ago | (#44732515)

1. Money is given in phases for each set of completed research goals.

Would that be in quarter moon phases?

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (-1, Troll)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#44732059)

Spending money on a bullshit "green" scams does not benefit mankind either. Green energy with Democrats in power is like defense with Republicans in power, a buzzword to facilitate transfer of taxpayer money to private hands.

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year ago | (#44732095)

Ding, we have a winner. I'd rather see a relaxation of regulatory hurdles in offshore energy development. That way corporations can spend their own money on projects not powered by fairy farts and unicorn dung.

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732131)

Fairy farts, unicorn dung and large numbers of niggers who are a benefit to their communities. All fictional entities of course.

A black person can be an asset to a community. Lots of blacks means the community is decaying. Everybody fucking knows it. You'll be a hypocrite and mod this down anyway or talk about how terrible I am. But you know it is true.

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (0)

letherial (1302031) | about a year ago | (#44732273)

Raciest fuck doesnt even want to revel himself, your not wise or intelligent your a angry coward.

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732391)

Learn to spell, nigger.

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732403)

Geez pal, it's not African Americans' fault that no one wants to stick their foetid cock in your rancid asshole. What say you?

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (2)

letherial (1302031) | about a year ago | (#44732243)

The sun puts out a million more watts per hour on the surface of earth then USA uses in 1 year.

Oil is energy from the sun at one point. Everything that we do, have, build or create has its roots with the sun. All of life uses solar energy to build itself and survive.

and what are we going to when all the oil is gone genius?

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year ago | (#44732691)

Since when does offshore energy development equate to only drilling for oil, genius?

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44734525)

To be fair, the wealthy spend a lot of money replacing the word oil with energy in conversation. Drilling for oil became exploring for energy [luntzglobal.com] . The conversation is dominated with money. Control the words and control the argument. Apparently, it's working. Your response implies that you meant other things that oil. The OP wants other things than oil. So you guys are arguing with each other and calling each other names. Unless, you did mean oil, in which case it's working even better.

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about a year ago | (#44733439)

did you read the article? that's basically the unstated goal. funding small projects to get enough information to work with.

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732605)

"Green energy with Democrats in power is like defense with Republicans in power, a buzzword to facilitate transfer of taxpayer money to private hands."

Oh please. Total spending ever in this country on green energy is what fraction of the annual budget on the military? What does spending more on our military than the next couple dozen powers do combined mean other than a massive waste of resources? God damn I hate "both sides do it." It tries to make equivalent two things that many orders of magnitude different.

Re:Wee, it's no wonder (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about a year ago | (#44733705)

Then again, with all the billions being wasted on spying (on US citizens as well as foreigners) [...]

Uh, where do you think we figured out how capture wave energy? And with the new "First to File" patent system, we can offer patent it in the US and make millions!

Hope they pay close attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44731827)

Hope they pay close attention to the effects on the environment, locally and globally, for we still know far too little about this to simply take it as a given. But of course, that's not where the frackin' monies are, so they'll just go ahead and they'll wilfully ignore any evidence this mightn't be a good idea for as long as they can get away with it.

Re:Hope they pay close attention (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#44731909)

So what has fracking got to do with tidal power?

Re:Hope they pay close attention (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44731971)

Maybe he meant Fraking [youtube.com] ?

Re:Hope they pay close attention (2)

john.r.strohm (586791) | about a year ago | (#44732171)

Yup.

NOBODY wants to talk about this one.

Extract all the energy from the wave, and you have no more wave. There is a HUGE amount of shoreline and shallow-water marine ecology that is critically dependent on wave action. Remove the waves, and you wreck that ecology.

The Environmental Impact Statements for those wave energy plants are gonna be INTERESTING.

Failed technology (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44731917)

Wave power has been talked up for years. No project is beyond the prototype stage, even the one in Scotland, and none of them are profitable. It's just not a very good idea.

Anything with moving parts at the ocean surface is going to be a maintenance headache. "Remember that the free surface is neither ocean nor air and that man cannot walk upon it nor will equipments remain stable in its presence. So design your equipments that they tarry not long and that they need neither servicing nor repair at this unseemly interface." - MIT/U.S. Navy ocean engineering expert. Most wave power schemes involve many big mechanical devices at the ocean surface. Fully submerged equipment or windmills above the ocean work better.

Tidal power is only feasible at a few locations worldwide. I read a study once that found ten potential sites in the world. The ideal site for maximum power output is the Bay of Fundy, but it's a long way from potential loads. Also, the way to get the most power out is to build a dam and hydroelectric plant, which totally changes the ecology in the area.

Re:Failed technology (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44732029)

"Remember that the free surface is neither ocean nor air and that man cannot walk upon it nor will equipments remain stable in its presence. So design your equipments that they tarry not long and that they need neither servicing nor repair at this unseemly interface." - MIT/U.S. Navy ocean engineering expert.

Are you sure that wasn't said by a wizard?

Re:Failed technology (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732189)

"Remember that the free surface is neither ocean nor air and that man cannot walk upon it nor will equipments remain stable in its presence. So design your equipments that they tarry not long and that they need neither servicing nor repair at this unseemly interface." - MIT/U.S. Navy ocean engineering expert.

Are you sure that wasn't said by a wizard?

It definitely wasnt said by a nigger. Science isnt gangsta, yo.

Re:Failed technology (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | about a year ago | (#44732907)

"Remember that the free surface is neither ocean nor air and that man cannot walk upon it nor will equipments remain stable in its presence. So design your equipments that they tarry not long and that they need neither servicing nor repair at this unseemly interface." - MIT/U.S. Navy ocean engineering expert.

Are you sure that wasn't said by a wizard?

In the US, it seems like most people can't tell the difference between Engineers, Scientists, and Wizards. So as far as most people are concerned, he might as well be.

Re:Failed technology (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44733355)

Are you sure that wasn't said by a wizard?

John Craven. [wikipedia.org] author of Ocean Engineering Systems, MIT Press. Chief Scientist US Navy Special Projects Office, project manager on Polaris submarine program, SEALAB, Marine Affairs Coordinator for Hawaii, Dean of marine programs at U. Hawaii, etc. Yes, a wizard.

Re:Failed technology (2)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a year ago | (#44733187)

No project is beyond the prototype stage, even the one in Scotland, and none of them are profitable. It's just not a very good idea.

You expect a prototype to be more effective than technologies that have had a century of development supporting them, not giving wave technology much of a chance are you.

Wind, Solar, Wave, Geothermal, Tidal, Hydro etc will be around for billions of years, we might as well invest in those because coal, oil and gas won't be around for long relatively speaking.

Re:Failed technology (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about a year ago | (#44733495)

tech has improved since that quote from, as far as I can tell, the mid 60's. care to go for another?

Re:Failed technology (0)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#44734465)

Wave power has been talked up for years. No project is beyond the prototype stage, even the one in Scotland, and none of them are profitable. It's just not a very good idea.
This is utter nonsense.
Wave power works everywhere where there are waves (unlike to tidal power).

Tidal power is only feasible at a few locations worldwide. As mentioned above, wave power != tidal power.

Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (0)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about a year ago | (#44731927)

In the end the energy will be extracted from the Moons orbital energy causing the Moon to get a bit closer. Causing bigger tides, weirder jet streams and nastier weather.

Eventually the Moon will touch the atmosphere and start bleeding our air into space.

Then the Moon will touch the peaks of the tallest mountains will start unpredictable havoc, assuming anyones left to see it.

Re:Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (3, Funny)

chill (34294) | about a year ago | (#44731963)

But think of the profits we can make from harvesting all of the green cheese!

I'm betting "big dairy" will never let this scenario happen.

Re:Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (2)

BitterOak (537666) | about a year ago | (#44731981)

But that would probably take many decades or even centuries. It may affect our grandchildren or great grandchildren but not us, so it sounds like a good plan for our immediate energy needs.

Re:Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732603)

Some rough calculations here suggests it would take 15 billion years for that to happen.

I think my grandchildren may have passed on by then. Maybe not yours.

Re:Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (4, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year ago | (#44732013)

Except that increasing tidal drag would actually cause the Moon to move away more quickly. Remember, the Earth rotates faster than the Moon orbits around it.

But yeah, other than being exactly wrong, you're exactly right.

Re:Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (0)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about a year ago | (#44732079)

Actually I don't see how the Moon can move away. That would require the Moon acquiring energy in the process, and I do not see how it can.

You are right about the Earth rotation though. A part of the enrgy will come from the Earths rotation a part from the Moons orbit. SO we will see higher tides lasting for longer times.

Re:Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (3, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#44732299)

Actually I don't see how the Moon can move away. That would require the Moon acquiring energy in the process,

Um, the moon is moving away from the Earth, at a rate of 3.8cm per year.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_distance_(astronomy) [wikipedia.org]

Reason why: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12311119 [bbc.co.uk]

PS: The Earth's rotation is also slowing down...(!)

Re:Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732301)

Look. We should be doing whatever we can to slow the earth down. There aren't enough hours in the day at the moment! By the time I get home, cook dinner and wash up, that's it. The day's gone. Off to bed. I think about a 28 hour day would be nice. My greatest fear about wave power is that it will actually speed up earth rotation because less tidal energy is used up eroding land.

Re:Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732315)

fucking A. does no one look up shit before they spout crap?
https://www.google.com/search?q=moon+moving+away
THE MOON DOES MOVE AWAY ALREADY AT A RATE OF ABOUT 3.8cm/Yr

the fucking moon and earth are a system. both the moons orbit and our rotation will be affected.

can all the idiots please move to the moon so when we are taking out that 1,400,000 Gigawhatt hrs, they are ejected into space w/ the moon????

Re:Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732283)

isnt' this site for smart geeks? i mean god damnit. the moon moves away from us at about an inch a year due to loss of energy already, so taking more energy from the system via tidal energy capture will HASTEN it's orbits growth, not make it smaller, lordy!

And what's that bs about bigger tides? even if you are a moron and cant predict taking energy away would move the moon farther out, how the hell do you get to thinking there will be BIGGER tides after you capture some tidal energy? you actually think that capturing tidal energy will cause tides to INCREASE in size?

Re:Causing the eventual distruction of the Earth (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#44732473)

The moon is moving away. I doubt we could extract enough energy to compensate.

Money is great, but regulations are the problem (5, Informative)

mveloso (325617) | about a year ago | (#44731937)

Get all the money you want, but it's regulatory compliance that's the problem, not the money - at least if this company's experience is any guide.

"Last September, with great fanfare, Ocean Power Technologies began construction on America's first wave-powered utility. Holding the first - and only - wave energy permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, OPT had planned to deploy a test buoy off the coast of Reedsport by spring.

But a year after the permit, regulatory and technical difficulties have all but halted the project. Federal regulators notified the company earlier this year it had violated the license after failing to file a variety of plans and assessments."

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2013/08/oregon_wave_energy_stalls_off.html [oregonlive.com]

One government hand giveth, other hands taketh away.

Re:Money is great, but regulations are the problem (0)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year ago | (#44732639)

They de-regulated the banks and look what happeded, the same with airlines and oil. They also de-coupled precious metals from the currency. Jobs now go overseas, families go out on the street, and our youth go overseas to fight and die for company profits. Whom do YOU blame?

Re:Money is great, but regulations are the problem (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about a year ago | (#44733517)

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc., in Pennington, New Jersey, will work on developing the float and spar â" or cylindrical body â" components of their PowerBuoy wave energy converter. These two components account for 50 percent of the deviceâ(TM)s mass, so improving materials, manufacturability, and durability of the float and spar could reduce the cost of energy and significantly improve the deviceâ(TM)s powerâtoâweight ratio. This work will make the PowerBuoy more reliable and marketable. DOE Funding: $1,000,000. Total Project Value: $1,250,000

ftfa

$16 million? Really? (3, Insightful)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#44731953)

Only 60,000 times smaller than amount spent on military. I wonder if the US citizens will ever revolt?

Re:$16 million? Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732033)

At least the military shows a positive return of sorts. I say cut welfare. Fucking lazy future heart attack patients who do nothing but watch TV and eat HoHos all day, hooligans who push drugs and shoot each other is the only thing we get from the welfare community. Let those fuckers work or die. After that pull all US military from all other countries and use it to shoot anyone who tries to cross the border without going through the proper channels.

Re:$16 million? Really? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44732363)

This message brought to you the Committee to Elect Ron Paul in 2016, though if cornered, he'll disclaim he had anything to do with it, and insist he just started the organization, and really just let anybody at all make statements on his behalf.

Re:$16 million? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732485)

No logical retort? WE HAVE A LOSER! Thanks for playing.

Re:$16 million? Really? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#44733119)

I think I hit pretty damned close to the mark by the looks of it.

Re:$16 million? Really? (2)

EvilSS (557649) | about a year ago | (#44732097)

Of course not, the government has a huge fucking military!

Revolt for underfunding of wave energy research? (1)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about a year ago | (#44732099)

It's hard to imagine a revolution where people are dying in the streets over wave energy.

Re:Revolt for underfunding of wave energy research (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | about a year ago | (#44732141)

I'm sure syfy could make a weekly (or should that be weakly?) movie about it.

New Unit of Currency - The Warbuck (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732249)

I think the media should start converting these piddling amounts of money spent on non-military projects to a new unit called the Warbuck. In this case, the project is funded at 0.0000167 Warbucks.

Seems technically simple... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44731973)

You could build a wall that raises and lowers, trapping the water in a large area at high tide. Then let the water back out through turbines at low tide, then lower the wall and let the water back in. Doesn't seem like it would have too many moving parts or require elaborate engineering. Just not sure how much energy it could produce.

Re:Seems technically simple... (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44732083)

Doesn't seem like it would have too many moving parts or require elaborate engineering.

That's probably because you've spent a grand total of about two minutes coming up with your idea. The solution to the tidal energy problem is not going to come from a Slashdot AC, sorry.

Re: Seems technically simple... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44733289)

I just calculated (honestly) that a wall strong enough to hold back a serious ammount of water is going to need lots of energy to put up.

Power vs. energy (3, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about a year ago | (#44732041)

Is it really asking so much for a three-sentence summary to address "power" and "energy" correctly and consistently?

Any time someone talks about a power facility in terms of "terawatt-hours per year", they're either confused themselves, or they're trying to confuse you. (Or both.) If they're talking about "terawatt-hours of power", they're the ones who are confused.

Re:Power vs. energy (3, Informative)

somepunk (720296) | about a year ago | (#44732227)

There's nothing funny about terawatt-hours per year as a measure of power. It's the average power generated over a year, since tidal power isn't uniform. It's the next sentence mixing up power and evergy that's messed up.

Re:Power vs. energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732375)

no, terawatt-hours is the energy generated per year. The power is terawatt-hours per year. Watt = Joule/s, Joule = Watt*s and Watt = Wattt*s/s

Re:Power vs. energy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44733339)

tidal power isn't uniform?
tide goes up, tide goes down. pretty much relentlessly.

Re:Power vs. energy (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about a year ago | (#44733745)

There's nothing funny about terawatt-hours per year as a measure of power.

Agreed.

Re:Power vs. energy (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#44732295)

Any time someone talks about a power facility in terms of "terawatt-hours per year", they're either confused themselves, or they're trying to confuse you. (Or both.) If they're talking about "terawatt-hours of power", they're the ones who are confused.

No they're not confused, both terms refer to different things.

Terawatts (or more frequently, megawatts) refers to the so-called nameplate capacity - the peak generating capacity of the plant.

Terawatt-hours per year refers to the actual energy generated over the course of a year.

Basically, TWh per year is (nameplate capacity)*(capacity factor). Capacity factor being the fraction of the nameplate capacity that the plant actually produces on average. Unfortunately, most people don't know the capacity factors for the different technologies off the top of their head (nuclear is around 0.9, coal/oil around 0.6, hydro about 0.4-0.5, offshore wind about 0.3-0.4, onshore wind bout 0.2-0.25, and solar about 0.15).

Dunno what the capacity factor is for wave generation, but in terms of assessing the real capability of a power plant, TWh per year is the more useful figure since it's directly comparable between different technologies (and against power consumption). Nameplate capacity is (ab)used by solar and wind proponents to exaggerate how much those systems actually generate. If you installed 6 kW worth of solar panels in your home, I'm sorry but it doesn't actually generate 6 kW. That's how much it'll generate on a sunny day at noon if the sun happens to be angled perfectly with the panels. On average (after you factor in night, clouds, angle of the sun, etc) it'll generate 1.1 kW if you're in the desert southwest U.S., 870 watts for most of the rest of the country.

Re:Power vs. energy (1)

bsolar (1176767) | about a year ago | (#44732783)

The capacity factor can only partially assess the real capability because it also depends on the power plants usage strategy. Some types of power plants are not very good in load following and are typically operated at maximum output almost continuously (like most nuclear power plants). Other types are better at load following and their output gets reduced to follow demand even if they could theoretically output more.

Capacity factor (2)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#44733847)

Nuclear plants can be used in a load following mode, but given that they have about the lowest marginal cost per kwh produced*, it makes no sense for them to NOT produce power when they can. Coal is more expensive, but if you really want to you can reach 90% capacity factor with it as well; my base has a coal powered cogeneration plant(electricity + steam heat) that can run all winter long, but in the summer it runs at less than half power, allowing lots of maintenance, but it never really fully shuts off.

The main point about capacity factor for renewable energy is that, for the most part it's not optional. So when you look at nuclear at $3 a watt vs $2 a watt solar, the nuclear is actually cheaper because you can anticipate running it at 90%, vs less than 30% for solar. So solar has to be below $1 a watt for nameplate capacity in order to actually produce the same average amount of power as a nuclear plant.

*Solar technically has a free marginal cost but you don't have a choice on when it generates power, Wind has a measurable cost per kwh because it has physical components that wear out.

Re:Power vs. energy (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#44734553)

Most people don't know "capacity factor" out of their head because they are an artificial invention of american lobbies.

A nuclear plant has no capacity factor of 0.9, you can as well run it at 100%. Why power companies don't do that is left as an exercise for the reader.

Coal has no capacity factor of 0.6 ... that is the most ridiculous ever seen. Most coal plants run at the highest cap they can.

The claim about hydro is the most ridiculous. You run a hydro plant to adjust to load demand. So the power it generates is EXACTLY 100% of what you want.

Offshore wind is usually running all the time, you don't scale it down (and you can't scale it up) over a year you have about 145% "capacity factor" ... as an offshore farm yields much more than name plate.

Same for onshore, usually you are around 80% - 130% nameplate rating.

The term "capacity factor" is a /. or USA invention. No energy company is using it. (And yes: as I pointed out often enough, I worked over 10 years for one of the biggest energy companies in europe. We are not interested in "capacity factor(s)" but in the actual energy produced. This "capacity factor" trash talk is utter nonsense.

Re:Power vs. energy (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year ago | (#44732557)

Any time someone talks about a power facility in terms of "terawatt-hours per year", they're either confused themselves, or they're trying to confuse you.

Actually, that specific bit makes complete sense. It's not exactly SI, but other than that, there is nothing wrong with it.
Power plants differ in how much useful energy they can generate at different times, so stating the (approximate) absolute amount of generated useful energy over a meaningful period of time is informative. The alternative would be to quote an average power output, which contains the same information.

An analogy that people can relate to:
watthour = egg
watt = chicken
power (verb) = feed
power (noun) = animals
energy = food

"The US Energy Department this week said it would spend $16 million for seventeen projects to help research and develop food generating systems from waves, tides and currents. The food agency says the US could generate up to 1,400 tera-eggs of potential animals per year. One tera-egg is enough to feed 85,000 homes, according to the agency."

As you can see, the mistakes are then readily apparent.

Units (1)

Alex Vulpes (2836855) | about a year ago | (#44732053)

Is it just me, or is "watt-hours per year" an unnecessarily complicated unit of measurement? I know it's commonplace, but there are just too many time units going back and forth. A watt is a joule per second, so a watt-hour per year is a (joule per second)-hour per year.

A watt-hour is 3600 joules, and 1400 terawatt-hours per year (aka 1.4 petawatt-hours per year) comes out to be just under 160 billion joules per second, aka 160 gigawatts. It seems like the unit (gigawatts) is already there, so why invent a new one? (Seems a bit like a case of Imperial vs metric units, but in this case they're both metric. The only conversion factor is different units of time.)

1 TeraW per 85,000 homes ? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732073)

That means almost 12 KW per home.

I wonder if the US Energy Department is aware of the fact that in most of Europe each home gets between 3 and 5 KW. Even at 6 KW (which should be more than enough for the vast majority of homes), that would double the figure, up to 170,000 homes.

Cutting energy use should be targeted, along with new, renewable energy sources...

Re:1 TeraW per 85,000 homes ? (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#44732487)

But once you include transmission losses!.... I don't know, just throwing that possibility into the mix.

Re:1 TeraW per 85,000 homes ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732929)

I wonder if the US Energy Department is aware of the fact that in most of Europe each home gets between 3 and 5 KW.

Well, you have the answer right there. Generally Americans consume about twice as much as Europeans. There's actually a substantial culture gap, not just geography, but you wouldn't notice it unless you lived in both places.

Re:1 TeraW per 85,000 homes ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44733233)

1 terawatt / 85,000 = 12 megawatts. You are off by a factor of 1000. You already thought the numbers didn't make sense, and actually it is worse than you thought.

Re:1 TeraW per 85,000 homes ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44733263)

Of course, the article says that this is per year. So 12 megawatts / 365 = 32 KW per day. The US EIA website say the average America home uses 11 KW per day.

Re:1 TeraW per 85,000 homes ? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44733385)

Because when Europeans find out they can get their hands on twice as much power, they'll all move over here and we'll need the capacity.

Seems like a tiny amount (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732215)

That really seems like a tiny amount for something with so much potential, as opposed to the amount of money that is spent on acquir... securi... liberati... oil.

Nice, but still the wrong focus (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#44732239)

We need money in various areas, but 2 biggies that are being missed are geo-thermal along with thorium fission. I would love to see us allocate 1B for each.

Re:Nice, but still the wrong focus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44733595)

Thorium reminds me that that Germany tried a reactor using Thorium in the early 1980ties (of course likely not the way you want Thorium to be used, but as you were not specific enough to be contradicted, you have to live with this). It was a total desaster. And now the amount of money to get rid of the remains grows and grows and grows.

Learn how to use units properly. (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#44732407)

A watt is a measurement of rate of flow.

A watt-hour is a volume of energy, based rate of flow for a give period of time. 3.6 petawatt-seconds is the same amount of energy as 1 terawatt hour.

When referring to how many homes you can power, leave the hour part off. Its 1 terawatt of flow can power 85k homes. If you power them for 1 hour, than its 1 terawatt-hour, but if you do it for two hours, than it takes 2 terawatt-hours to do it.

Example, 1 gigawatt-hour can power those same 85k homes as well ... but not for a full hour, only a few seconds. Roughly 3.6 seconds to be exact.

How long is it before the intelligencia catches on (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732411)

That by harnessing the magical power of waves, we are altering the natural wave action that has existed on the planet for billions of years. We will be altering ecosystems, and changing the cliamate. Also by harnessing the 'power of the sun' less sunlight will be going towards heating the ground, and we will be changing the climate. Also by harnessing the 'power of the wind' we will be changing wind pattersn and changing the climate.

Shheeesh. I would imagine that people will only realize this if these alternative sources of energy became as ubiquitous as fossile fuels. In the mean time I guess this is as good an outlet as any for the energies of the green movement.

Sure. you don't have to burn these terrible fossile fuels anymore. Instead we will just make massive wave gernerators offshore. These 'wave generators' will in no do anything to alter our cliamate. They get their power from magic, and the laws of thermodynamics be damed.

Yes kids through the power of positive thinking you can have a planet with 6+ billion people on it and have them have no affect on the planets cliamate if we only use alternative energy sources (note for some reason nuclear fuel is not an alternative).

IMHO the intelligencia should be thinking of a way to get people off the planet rather than concentrating on a way to ensure 6 billion people on a planet wont affect anything.

But then again I am a faggot, and everying I says is gay.

Re: How long is it before the intelligencia catche (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44733311)

The only way to safeguard the environment is with population control

Stupid numbers. (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | about a year ago | (#44732425)

Why say 1400 terawatts, then explain that 1 terawatt is sufficient to power 85,000 homes when you could just as easily say that it generates "1400 terawatts, enough to power 119,000,000 homes"?

Re:Stupid numbers. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732973)

Why say 1400 terawatts, then explain that 1 terawatt is sufficient to power 85,000 homes when you could just as easily say that it generates "1400 terawatts, enough to power 119,000,000 homes"?

Because most literate people can multiply?

Fi85t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44732453)

Meanwhile ... (2)

InsGadget (2092854) | about a year ago | (#44732737)

We spend almost 4 orders of magnitude more on subsidizing the digging of stuff out of the earth, so we can burn it. On subsidizing the most profitable corporations in the history of mankind. Hurray us.

Wait... (1)

fullback (968784) | about a year ago | (#44733007)

Why not just capture the thermal energy and methane gas from the steaming heaps of horse manure radiating from Washington D.C.?

Fucked up units. (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44733347)

1TWh is a unit of energy, not a unit of power. One TWh or electricity is about enough to power 85000 homes FOR A YEAR. That's a completely fucked up way to state things.

1400 TWh per year equals 159.8 GW. US annual electricity production is about 4000 TWh/year.
average home power consumption is about (http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3) 11280 kWh/year,
so 1400TWh/year divided by 11280 kWh/year/home equals about 124 million homes.

That is the relevant figure, if you believe it. Personally, I think capturing that amount of wave energy sounds far fetched. One thing's for sure. You're not going to get that amount of power for $16 Million.

Re:Fucked up units. (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#44733971)

That's a completely fucked up way to state things.

The kicker is that no 'average' home consumes power evenly, nor does any power plant produce it perfectly evenly. So it's all a series of averages.

so 1400TWh/year divided by 11280 kWh/year/home equals about 124 million homes.

and that works out to 1 TWh/year equals 88.6k homes per TWh, which seems reasonable based on where you get your average use data and how you average/round.

Of course, I wonder where you got 1.4k TWh from 4k TWh.

BTW, on average home power consumption - you can divide the USA into regions; the northeast matches Europe(more or less), the South uses enough juice to drag up the average. The NW tends to use more power as well because electricity is so cheap there huge proportions heat everything via electric.

Won't somebody think of the [sea] children?!? (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year ago | (#44733429)

So what happens to the environment when we extract all that energy?

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