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Green Energy Now, And On The Tide

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the washing-ashore dept.

Technology 577

thpr writes "The Electric Power Research Institute and its partners have completed their Offshore Wave Power Feasibility Demonstration Project, which defined potential wave energy projects off the shores of the United States. This is building off of work already done in Scotland (and elsewhere). San Francisco, New York and other areas are considering trial installations of the technology. It is interesting to note (table 1 in the report) that the energy density (kW/m^2) that can be achieved is much higher than wind or solar. In addition, harnessing 24% of available wave energy near the US at 50% efficiency is equal to all of the hydropower currently generated in the US (~7% of total electricity production). On a separate note, in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's $1.2B 2006 budget the Department of Energy is closing out the Hydropower Technologies Program. Maybe that's why this technology is missing from our National Energy Policy?" Until it reaches maturity, though, U.S. readers can pay for other forms of green energy.

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Yayayayayyayayay Frist post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675073)

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Re:Yayayayayyayayay Frist post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675146)

You are my new hero.

So wouldn't that be ... (3, Funny)

isometrick (817436) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675075)

nothing for you to "sea" here?

Want more on the subject? (5, Informative)

MikeCapone (693319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675247)

For those who want more, the best links on for intelligent green reading:

WorldChanging.com [worldchanging.com] -- which also has an article about wave power [worldchanging.com] .

TreeHugger [treehugger.com] , which is already linked in the story.

Dave Pollard [salon.com] , which writes very insightfully about lots of things including environmental philosophy.

Green Car Congress [greencarcongress.com] , where you can get the best news about green mobility, cool cars & industrial developments.

IDFuel [idefuel.com] , which is more about design but covers some of the same ground as TreeHugger.com

FuelCellWorks [fuelcellsworks.com] for all the latest news about fuel cells.

Grist Magazine [grist.org] , for news and a touch of humor, plus lots of interviews.

Other green energy sources (3, Funny)

momerath2003 (606823) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675076)

Don't forget nuclear power [entergy-nuclear.com] !

Re:Other green energy sources (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675111)

Yes, because the toxic waste from mining and radioactive leavins' are so green and renewable.

First person who says "pebble-bed reactors" gets to ask why no one has mentioned drawbacks of these reactors yet. I don't believe the hype until someone is willing to discuss the downsides.

Re:Other green energy sources (5, Insightful)

dolphinling (720774) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675265)

Well, considering that burning coal puts out more radioactivity than nuclear energy (not to mention all the soot, CO2, CO, etc), I'd say that nuclear is pretty green. It could be made even more green if we didn't ban reprocessing. A recent discover (or was it wired?) had a nice article on it, pick it up, it can tell you a lot more than me.

Re:Other green energy sources (2, Funny)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675112)

I cant wait for someone to start a silly flame war about nuclear waste.

To head it off at the pass: Nuclear power: it came from the ground, we're extracting energy from it, and we put it back in the ground. Fundamentally, that's the same as oil. Except, with oil we put the excess into the air we breathe. Now which is better?

Re:Other green energy sources (4, Insightful)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675147)

...we put it back in the ground. Fundamentally, that's the same as oil.

My car's about due for an oil change. I take it you wouldn't mind me dumping out the old oil into the ground? After all, it came from the ground, so I can put it back there, right?

No? How about if I wait until next time I go to Nevada and dump it out there, in the middle of nowhere where no one (and nothing) lives? What if everyone did this?

If we're using a lot of the stuff, we need a good place to put the waste, or a way to recycle it. Not saying it can't be done, but there aren't too many good places to put spent nuclear fuel rods.

Re:Other green energy sources (0)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675177)

I say we put em back into the caverns that we created by pumping oil out of the ground.

That cant be that bad, right ? It's way the hell below the water table.

Re:Other green energy sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675217)

C'mon dude, you don't really mean this do you? Pulling out oil creates caverns in the same way that squeezing water from a sponge creates caverns. I think you need to find a different website that is more up your brand of fact and education, say fox news?

Re:Other green energy sources (3, Funny)

Jaidon (843279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675125)

Let us not forget about the Green Lantern's green power ring!!

Fusion (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675164)

We know it's the future. We know with adequate research spending it can be achieved and will make any talk of green or nuclear power pointless. It can be both done before going to Mars, for comparable price, and will help greatly with achieving that goal. It will eradicate global warming by letting us produce cheap hydrogen. So what are we waiting for?

Re:Fusion (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675268)

Yeah, I say throw as much money at the physicists/engineers as they need until they get an efficient fusion reactor happening. If there was a proposal to spend 10% of the world's GDP each year purely on Fusion research, I would vote for it in a second! In the long run, it will probably cost much more than that to fix the mess caused by global warming.

Why even waste our time with wind/wave power schemes that have such obvious limitations? This research sounds like a attempt to appease the science-ignorant hippies who shudder at the word 'nuclear', but you know, really dig the ocean man.

Re:Fusion (0, Troll)

Leo McGarry (843676) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675308)

Oh, please. "We know it's the future?" We don't even know if it's theoretically possible! We don't even have a model of a way of producing electricity from fusion that's anywhere near the efficiency of plain-oil nuclear steam generation.

Fusion is ten years away from being practical ...and for all we know, it may stay that way forever.

Re:Other green energy sources (1)

shadowkoder (707230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675165)

You mean RADIOACTIVE green!

Re:Other green energy sources (4, Informative)

dasunt (249686) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675252)

The main advantages that nuclear has over solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and tidal:

  • We have the technology now.

This is a biggie. We know how to build nuclear power plants. Other countries have been doing so for years. Even in the US, nuclear is a proven energy source: IIRC, the US derives 24% of its electricity from nuclear power.

  • The technology can replace full US capacity.

Look at how much energy the US uses now, and how much the US predicts it will be using. Can solar cells, wind farms, hydroelectric, or tidal replace that? It doesn't seem that wind nor solar can -- it doesn't have the capacity nor the constant power generation. Hydroelectric isn't unlimited either: sooner or later you run out of damnable rivers. Geothermal? It seems location dependent (but I'll admit, I haven't done my homework on this one). Tidal? How much coastline would we need again?

  • Relatively non-disruptive.

Hydroelectric power creates lakes and turns rivers into streams. It changes aquatic ecosystems. How about tidal? How many shorelines are we going to line with tidal energy power generation? What do you think that will do to the environment? (Wind power is also relatively non-disruptive.)

  • Cost effective.

Nuclear has been competing with traditional electric generation for decades. We know we can generate nuclear power at a relatively low cost. The same can't be said for many other alternative energy sources.

Effective at limiting pollution.

No matter what "green" energy we use, there will be pollution. Check out the byproducts created in the manufacture of solar cells. Yes, nuclear does require some mining, and it requires proper disposal of nuclear waste. Yet, in the end, nuclear is amazingly efficient at eliminating greenhouse gases on a level with other green technologies.

So, lets sum up - Nuclear is:

  • We have the technology now.
  • The technology can replace full US capacity.
  • Relatively non-disruptive.
  • Cost effective.
  • Effective at limiting pollution.

Perhaps this is why noted scientists such as James Lovelock also advocate nuclear power.

The main problem is the public and the greens. They are convinced that nuclear power is unsafe, that radiation will kill us all, and they are playing a NIMBY game with nuclear waste disposal.

To be honest, nuclear power isn't my first choice for green energy: That would be orbital space platforms harvesting the energy of the sun, or fusion reactors. Perhaps one day, those technologies would be feasible. Right now, they are slightly more of a pipe dream than other green energy. Nuclear exists now, and it works. Conservation goes only so far -- the third world is slowly turning first world, and that will require an enormous consumption of energy.

We need to be realistic about our energy problem and about what solutions will work. Most alternative energy sources won't work right now. Nuclear will.

The PROBLEMS with nuclear (not nukular) (1, Informative)

MikeCapone (693319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675256)

The problems with nuclear power are pretty well outlined here [tompaine.com] , I think. Give it a read, it fills some of the holes left in the the recend Wired article that most here have probably seen.

Nuclear has many advantages, but we must not turn a blind eye to its shortcomings.

Re:Other green energy sources (1)

rush22 (772737) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675303)

Nuclear power isn't "green". It produces waste. Highly toxic radioactive waste to be exact.

Oh man, this is going to suck (1, Interesting)

FireballX301 (766274) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675079)

Those electrical generators are going to TOTALLY kill those waves I wanted to surf. Oh MAN.

Seriously, though, it's a clean source of power, but what kind of impact will it have on coastal areas? No more beach fish spawning, no more killer waves to surf, and the area where these will be deployed will become almost like kiddie pools.

Re:Oh man, this is going to suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675092)

Yeah but that means going outside in the SUN! scary stuff. And then there are the beach babes! Oh the humanity.

Re:Oh man, this is going to suck (4, Insightful)

DoctorMO (720244) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675167)

It'll be a barrier to coastal erosion which badly effects some parts of the world.

Re:Oh man, this is going to suck (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675211)

no more killer waves to surf, and the area where these will be deployed will become almost like kiddie pools.

If that's the price that must be paid, that's a bad thing? If that's the price I would happily pay it. Save the environment VS allowing people to surf. Tough choice.

Re:Oh man, this is going to suck (2, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675218)

Did you stop to think that the ocean life in those areas needs those waves and currents to survice and that this system might damage them?

Re:Oh man, this is going to suck (4, Insightful)

MikeCapone (693319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675267)

Did you stop to think that the ocean life in those areas needs those waves and currents to survice and that this system might damage them?

Hmm, first of all.. These generators won't keep people from surfing because they'll be pretty far out at sea.

Secondly, they are not going to "stop waves" or affect much the area where they are.

Thirdly, they'll have a much smaller impact on local and global life than coal plants and other ancient technologies. Global warming will affect billions - basically all life on earth, I think that a few barrel-looking things at sea is a good price to pay to help generate clean energy.

Re:Oh man, this is going to suck (2, Interesting)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675286)

Only if you ignore the massive amount of power and materials that will go into building 2000 to 4000 kms of power generating stations.

This would be one of the largest, if not the largests, enginering projects that mankind has ever done and the production of it would have a negative effect on the environment.

Nuclear power would be much cheaper and less disruptive to the environment.

Re:Oh man, this is going to suck (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675289)

But consider the consequences of no waves on the environment. Sure it probably wouldn't be as bad as massive CO2 production, but it's important to note that it's not entirely green either.

I still fail to see why we should spend so much on inefficient "green" technologies, when nuclear power is available and quite green itself. Just mine some radioactive stuff use it and put it back in the ground. Oh wait, I said nuclear...

Re:Oh man, this is going to suck (1)

MikeCapone (693319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675277)

Unless you surf far out at sea, you are not going to be affected. In fact, you probably won't ever see these things even if you live on the coast.

Re: YES... It IS a bad thing... But NOT the case! (1)

EatingPie (850731) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675313)

" Those electrical generators are going to TOTALLY kill those waves I wanted to surf. Oh MAN."

Remember, part of being "green" is doing LITTLE or NO damage to the environment!

But rest easy... the CLOSEST facility is 2.5km (HI) from shore, while the CA facility is 13 to 25km from shore. MOST surf spots are a scant 20 to 100 meters from shore. (As a surfer, this is the very first thing I checked in the document!)

I suspect the effect on "my surf spot" will be negligable. And hopefully this will be a viable form of energy that has negligable impact on the ocean environment.

-EatingPie (aka SurfingPie)

24 percent is a lot (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675086)

24 percent is a lot .. that's basically thousands of miles of coast. For what? 7% of energy? And what about maintenance costs? Effects on marine life .. Imagine dolphins or whales getting caught in this .. ships .. can ships operate safely?

Re:24 percent is a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675120)

24 percent is a lot .. that's basically thousands of miles of coast. Whooho, thanks for the math lesson.

US coast 19,924 km (from CIA fackbook) so its about 4781,76 km of coastline.

Re:24 percent is a lot (1)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675127)

7 percent is a lot. That's a whole boatload of energy you're talking about that doesnt come from fossil fuels and lets us use oil for important things.. like deriving ether for my chemistry experiments.

Re:24 percent is a lot (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675191)

" That's a whole boatload of energy you're talking about..."

Ugh. Is that all?

Re:24 percent is a lot (1)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675203)

Wasnt even thinking about the pun actually..

Re:24 percent is a lot (1)

Intocabile (532593) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675260)

The canadian coastline is 202,080km*. If we installed this on a good percentage of it the US would have to bow down to their hydroelectric overloards to the north for their energy needs. Not that the northeast doesn't already.

*may be 50% covered with ice

Re:24 percent is a lot (1)

MikeCapone (693319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675294)

This is pennies compared to the subsidies that are paid out to the oil, coal and nuclear industries. And these sources of energy are only cheaper when you externalizes their true costs (healthcare costs (cancers, asthma, etc), costs to the environment and how much it will cost to clean up and replace these things, cost to quality of life of people living near the things, cost to animal life, etc).

Green Energy (-1, Offtopic)

savage1r (856578) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675087)

First Post! W00T

The only question I have about energy (2, Insightful)

zyridium (676524) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675088)

Is when nuclear energy is going to be put back on the agenda. I mean compared to coal it is squeaky clean!

Re:The only question I have about energy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675134)

When we run out of coal.

Re:The only question I have about energy (1)

MikeCapone (693319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675283)

Is when nuclear energy is going to be put back on the agenda. I mean compared to coal it is squeaky clean!

Yes, but compared to coal everything looks clean.

Here's a nice read about nuclear energy. [tompaine.com]

Replacing a few coal plants with nuclear could be a way to make a change for the better fast, but nuclear shouldn't be seen a panacea and it should too be replaced with truly clean sources of energy as fast as possible.

I'm all for "green" energy... (1)

Jaidon (843279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675090)

...but it simply isn't practical yet. It may save the planet, but it won't save us, the consumer, the other form of "green" which we require to engage in other useful activities such as eating and not sleeping out in the rain.

Re:I'm all for "green" energy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675307)

Hmm.. Why? Do you have any idea of what you are talking about or are you just spewing out a bunch of stereotypes? I thought so.

Idiot.

Adoption (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675097)

As great - or as needed - as green energy may be, we'll never see widespread adoption of it. At least, not so long as the oil industry exists.

Re:Adoption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675301)

Well, that's what you get for voting all the goddamn oil/industry barons into power in the US!

Why call it green energy when... (3, Interesting)

LearningHard (612455) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675098)

Most likely this will have massive effects on oceanlife and beachlife in the areas they are installed. I view it as a technology with its uses but the greenies have yet again started blabbing about how ecofriendly it is without thinking about the true long term consequences.

Re:Why call it green energy when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675189)

Most likely this will have massive effects on oceanlife and beachlife in the areas they are installed, which is why no one with half a brain plans to install it in a wildlife refuge. I view it as a technology with many uses, but the slashbots have yet again started blabbing about how it will cause the earth to end in a rain of fire without thinking about the long term consequences of storing nuclear fuel rods for hundreds of thousands of years.

Re:Why call it green energy when... (4, Informative)

MikeCapone (693319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675320)

It's effect of ocean life (and the planet in general) is microscopic, infinitesimal, compared to the effect of the coal plants and other brown and black energy sources.

power is important (1)

drDugan (219551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675099)

because we start to really depend on it.

can these things survive a Tsunami?

Re:power is important (2, Insightful)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675137)

Seeing as these things tend to be a while outwards in the ocean, where the waves arent really that high yet, I'd guess that they would (I could be dead wrong here).

Now would their support systems survive and still allow them to produce effective power? That, I'm no so sure about.

Re:power is important (1)

carlmenezes (204187) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675205)

I think a more valid question would be : How fast can they be re-constructed AFTER a tsunami?

Re:power is important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675298)

Is that the yardstick now to measure everything that's near the coast ? Can it survive a tsunami ?

Let me guess you wanted every building to be aeroplane proof after 9/11 too?

Re:power is important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675316)

Of coarse they can, they'll just produce a billion times more power!

Low impact system? (5, Insightful)

irhtfp (581712) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675101)

When you take energy out of a system, you affect that system and all other systems that depend on it.

In other words, these projects affect the currents, at least locally which in turn *will* affect the biological systems that depend on these currents, to what extent? I don't think we know.

We need alternate energy, but we need to honestly compare the impact of each energy extraction method we consider. Personally, I think nuclear is the lowest impact energy tech.

Re:Low impact system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675194)

Solar. That being said, it isn't an answer for nearly all (or even most) of our energy needs.

Re:Low impact system? (4, Funny)

mtrisk (770081) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675206)

Save the Sun! Stop the use of solar power now! By taking energy out of the solar system, we will affect the local energy structure, causing quantum fluctuations in the time cube [timecube.com] !!!!

Do YOU want to kill the sun and cause the solar system to collapse into a single point? That's quite un-american! Perhaps you're a terrorist!

I'm sorry, Valentine's Day got to me pretty hard.

Side effects (2, Interesting)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675104)

Do people know of any serious downsides to wave energy ?

I hear that you cant put it in densly populated water ways, as it really impeeds boats moving (at least the surface variety, are there deep buried kinds, too ?).

If anyone could comment on the negatives of this, it'd be nice to see the other side. For instance, wind power is usually cited as an eyesore, and solar as having problems w/ where you are located (same w/ wind to some extent).

Re:Side effects (1, Troll)

Gob Blesh It (847837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675114)

Generating energy by tidal friction slows the planet's rotation, which could eventually send the Earth hurtling out of the solar system. Burning coal you lung disease, and nuclear power gives you cancer. Natural gas smells funny. There's no free lunch.

Re:Side effects (0, Flamebait)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675144)

...Back under the bridge, troll. "Slows the planet's rotation?" Please cite your source for THAT one, I'd love to see who came up with it.

Re:Side effects (1)

Gob Blesh It (847837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675212)

Tidal friction.

Re:Side effects (5, Informative)

wayne (1579) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675225)

"Slows the planet's rotation?" Please cite your source for THAT one, I'd love to see who came up with it.

Yes, tidal forces DO cause the earth's rotation to slow down.

The tidal forces created by the earth on the moon have slowed the rotation of the moon down to the point that we only see one side of the moon. That is, the moon rotates about once a month. Similarly, the tidal forces of the moon are slowing the earth's rotation down, and it will eventually reach one about one rotation per month also. Assuming that the sun doesn't become a red giant first. And, speaking of the sun, there is also a tidal force that from the sun that will eventually cause the earth to rotate once per year. I'm not sure who this conflict between the moon's and the sun's tidal forces work out.

Conservation of angular momentum means that the tidal forces are causing the moon to orbit the earth faster, and thus further away.

While all these tidal forces are very small and only add up over very long periods of time, they can be measured. In particular, things like variations of the amount of snow on mountains, the amount of water in man-made lakes, the force of huricanes, and variations in the shape of the earth caused by earthquakes all add up to enough to cause the need for leap seconds.

Leap years keep the seasons from rotating through the calendar. Leap seconds keep the zenith of the sun ("noon") from rotating through the day. I forget the exact value, but there is something like an accumulated 20-30 seconds difference caused by these forces over the last 50 years, and therefore there have been 20-30 leap seconds added since then.

Re:Side effects (2, Interesting)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675151)

how bout solar? It's just energy that'd be going to space anyhow.. that looks like a free lunch.

mmm... lunch..

Re:Side effects (1)

Jameth (664111) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675245)

Solar isn't a free lunch because the creation of the collection methods are still horrible for the environment (last I checked, that was over a year ago). Most things have a high creation cost, but solar cells are particularly bad when compared to their lifespan and expected energy return.

Fusion is our best shot for a free lunch, but I still see the current nuclear systems as a damn good option.

Re:Side effects (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675171)

Nautral gas doesn't smell till the add the smell to it.

See New London, Texas.

Re:Side effects (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675295)

I hear that you cant put it in densly populated water ways,

That's in itself a negative. There's always waste in transmitting power long distances. An energy source that is close to big cities is more ecologicaly sound, if only because it isn't wasting the part used in transmitting the rest. That can be 1/2 or more of all the power produced, in cases like TVA hydroelectric plants sending power 800 or 1,000 miles up and over to the north eastern seaboard.
If all the current waterways around cities like Boston or New York really have to be preserved for boats and we can't build these things close to them, then these systems have to be at least twice as good in every other respect than the alternatives, just to break even overall. Five or ten percent better just won't work, it's got to be at least twice just for starters.
Now if part of the coast near New York or Trenton could be taken out of use for pleasure boating, fishing, and at least small shipping, so wave enguines could be located as close as wind or nuclear or even fossil fuel plants theoretically could be, that's different. but then rebuilding that much infrastructure is itself a big down side.

Harness the power of future tsunamis? (1)

TheShadowHawk (789754) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675106)

Of course I have not RTFA, but imagine the power spike if a future mega tsunami washes over these electical generators!

"Yes, buildings about 1 to 2 kms inland are all wasted, but free electricity for a month! wahoo!!"

Re:Harness the power of future tsunamis? (1)

DoctorMO (720244) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675178)

Not quite, the generators don't work like that.

It takes two sides to make it work... (3, Interesting)

helioquake (841463) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675129)

Both power providers and consumers need to work in harmony: (1) the power companies are to increase the efficiency in generating more power and (2) the consumers are to utilize the available energy in an efficient manner.

There isn't much I can do for (1). But I can do for (2) by replacing light bulbs with energy saving bulbs (ESBs, or compact fluorescent bulb that fits in an incadescent lamp), turn off the light where not needed, and turn the damned TV when /.ing. You can do a little to cut some energy expenses by following these actions. In reality I am not going to save over $20 a year. But when people start doing the same, it soon becomes a real money.

Re:It takes two sides to make it work... (1, Interesting)

dolphinling (720774) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675311)

Yeah, one of my favorite things to point out is that if each person in the US just once flipped off their lightbulb for 30 seconds as they left the room for a moment, we'd collectively save enough money to feed a child for a year. Obviously there's a bit of rounding here, since energy prices are different in different places, people have different wattage bulbs, etc., but a little simple math shows you it's in the right ballpark.

So just think, each time you flip the lightswitch when you go to get a drink, you're doing your part to save a kid's life.

What's really important is kW-hr per dollar... (2, Insightful)

aquarian (134728) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675132)

It is interesting to note (table 1 in the report) that the energy density (kW/m^2) that can be achieved is much higher than wind or solar.

Yeah, but what about what really matters -- kilowatt hour per dollar.

No free lunch (2, Insightful)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675140)

There's no such thing as a free lunch. Once we install enough tidal energy collectors, there will be no more big waves. Before long, all the newspapers will be full of stories about sad and lonely surfers:

"Dude, I heard about a gnarly 1 foot wave off the coast of the Bering Strait."

"Woah, what are we waiting for? Let's grab our boards and ride!"

Won't someone please think of the surfers!

Re:No free lunch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675201)

Ahhh....let me think:

NO!

Hey - you're the one that asked! :-)

Wave-Powered Whisky (2, Informative)

Geek Yid (798534) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675143)

Interesting how these wave generators wind up at whisky-distilling islands. Orkney has the wonderful Scapa and better known Highland Park, not to mention the Orkney Brewery. Islay, meanwhile, with its seven working distilleries has much of its electricity generated by a 'Limpet' wave generator. (See http://www.fujitaresearch.com/reports/limpet.html for more.) Environmentally friendly power: it's just one more good thing about Scotch Whisky!

A note to all aternative energy researchers (1)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675148)

I want to play Half Life for longer than 30 minutes on my notebook without recharging. Make that possible and all the funding cuts Boosh can think won't be able to stop you.

Re:A note to all aternative energy researchers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675262)

WTF? Make some damn sense.

Re:A note to all aternative energy researchers (1)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675280)

1. Alternative energy research (like in TFA)
2. Power consumer devices (like my notebook)
3. Half life with longer battery life
4. Profit

I'm not sure if I put much stock in technology... (1)

Jaidon (843279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675149)

...from a people who invented The Fried Mars Bar [www.ctv.ca] . There isn't anything "green" about burning methane or lard.

Sea power will cause an Ice Age (0)

skeptictank (841287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675150)

If you are taking energy out of the oceans, then ultimately you are taking heat out of them. Sorry - no free rides.

Re:Sea power will cause an Ice Age (1)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675166)

Yes... except.. what has kept them from freezing for millions of years and will continue to DO so ?

Oh right, that huge nuclear fusion reaction in the sky that we call the sun.. most of our energy comes from there in one form or another.

Re:Sea power will cause an Ice Age (1)

skeptictank (841287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675213)

All our sources of energy except geothermal and Nuclear come from the sun. But, only so much sunlight falls on the oceans each year, if we are taking the heat out of the oceans it's going to have cooling effect on them over the long term. Using any source energy that ultimately derives from the Sun is going have an impact on the environment, because we are taking energy out of the system and the amount of energy coming into the system is fixed. No matter what sources we use to generate power, it will impact our environment - that is just something we have to learn how to balance.

Re:Sea power will cause an Ice Age (2, Insightful)

mpesce (146930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675183)

The energy is still there, in the form of waste heat, after the electricity is used to _do_ something. It may be taken out of the ocean, but it ain't taken out of the Earth.

Re:Sea power will cause an Ice Age (1)

skeptictank (841287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675237)

Right, and it is radiated back out into space in the infrared. But, water gives up heat much more slowly than the land or cities do. Putting a mechanical system that is designed to extract heat from the oceans and ultimately radiate it away over the land puts a whole new system in place for cooling the oceans - if the system is efficient enough and extensive enough it could have a big impact in a few decades.

Re:Sea power will cause an Ice Age (1)

mpesce (146930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675271)

The biggest problem we're likely to have over the next thousand years or so is getting rid of our waste heat, not conserving it in the oceans. If, say, China comes to btu/person equivalence with the United States, the planet will cook like an egg. Then we'll be _praying_ for the oceans to cool down. While I agree that this will convert some kinetic energy in the oceans into radiated IR, it pales in comparison to the overal translation of all forms of energy usage into waste heat.

Idiocy (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675152)

Wave power is a total ridiculosity - you want to sacrifice TWENTY FOUR PERCENT of US coastline in order to supply SEVEN PERCENT of the electricity.

This is our electricity usage BEFORE we tack on the electricity used to power our hydrogen cars, which will raise our consumption an order of magnitude.

Using algal biodiesel, breeder fission(with development on fusion), and wind where suitable, are the only remotely practical eco-friendly choices that are sustainable - Photovoltaic trumps them all, but to convert even just our current electrical needs to photovoltaic would cost more than we've spent on imported oil since we started importing oil. We could create an infrastructure to supply the entire nation's demand for fuel with algal biodiesel on an amount of money that's similar to what we spend anually on importing oil, which is coincidentally about the same amount of money it would cost to install a single hydrogen pump at every gas station in the US.

Wave power is and has always been a crock.

green pricing programs? (3, Informative)

Lackaff (247537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675188)

Until it reaches maturity, though, U.S. readers can pay for other forms of green energy.
Hey, if Timothy says green pricing is on-topic for this discussion, who am I to argue? Green pricing programs are not only available in the US. I helped compile this information about international green pricing programs [energy.gov] a few years ago. Looks as if it hasn't been updated in a while, but non-Yankee Slashdotters might find something useful there.

Idiocy (4, Interesting)

Squalish (542159) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675193)

Wave power is a total ridiculosity - you want to sacrifice TWENTY FOUR PERCENT of US coastline in order to supply SEVEN PERCENT of the electricity.

This is our electricity usage BEFORE we tack on the electricity used to power our hydrogen cars, which will raise our consumption an order of magnitude.

Using algal biodiesel, breeder fission(with development on fusion), and wind where suitable, are the only remotely practical eco-friendly choices that are sustainable - Photovoltaic trumps them all, but to convert even just our current electrical needs to photovoltaic would cost more than we've spent on imported oil since we started importing oil. We could create an infrastructure to supply the entire nation's demand for fuel with algal biodiesel on an amount of money that's similar to what we spend anually on importing oil, which is coincidentally about the same amount of money it would cost to install a single hydrogen pump at every gas station in the US.

Wave power is and has always been a crock as an energy scheme.

whoops, forgot to log in :)

Re:Idiocy (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675221)

solar heating of water is a more efficient power generating mechanism than Solar cells.

Re:Idiocy (3, Informative)

Tiger the Lion (808669) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675240)

Not 24% of coastline, but 24% of total tidal energy. You can't assume that the waves are equal everywhere along the coastlines.

And 7% of total energy demand is nothing to scoff at. Imagine if it was actually realised - a lot of greenhouse gases would be saved. All I hope is that the picture is still rosey after an in-depth environmental assessment.

------
Daily energy news and discussion: http://www.thewatt.com/ [thewatt.com]

Re:Idiocy (1)

Squalish (542159) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675254)

After examining at the article, I realize I wasn't fully aware of generation options available. I was under the impression that Salter's Duck was a dead idea, and they were going with projects that based themselves on the actual shoreline(All I'd heard press about was the air compression scheme or the overflow valve scheme), which is 100% unacceptable from an environmental standpoint, and has terrible efficiency compared to dam hydro (generation capacity is proportional to an exponent of depth, there's a reason that dams are built high).

Of the options they present, it appears that what they call the Terminator design is probably the most viable of the options, and I don't see it completely destroying coastlines. The design they call the Terminator (They mention the brand Pelamis, I believe) IMO has real potential for island areas. For huge landlocked nations like ours, however, I doubt it has a real future.

Re:Idiocy (1)

Squalish (542159) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675297)

Bah, I'm too used to forums where I can edit posts :)

"Landlocked" in a relative sense, that we have a large land area to coastline ratio.

ma83 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675197)

invited back again. would you like= to overly morbid and Usenet posts. between each BSD for the record, I the 'community' product, BSD's And shouting that This post brought they learn from our smells worse than a in any way related *BSD is dying Yet Irc network. The another charnel Play area Try not users all over the that supports Keep unnecessary

A look at solar. (4, Informative)

Malluck (413074) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675226)

How viable is solar power? I was asking myself this question and here's the numbers I came up with.

In 2001 the USA used 96275 trillion BTUs of energy [slashdot.org] that year. This comes to 3.22 trillion watts.

Now there are about 295 million people [census.gov] in the US, so this comes to about 11Kw per person [google.com] at any given time.

This means each person uses is responsible for 262 Kwh of power [google.com] per day.

Now lets say that square meter of sunlight provides 1 kw of energy on average and the average area gets 5 good hours of sunlight per day. Looking at this chart [stirlingenergy.com] , you can see that this assumption isn't too far off.

The typical solar panel is about 30% efficient. This means that for every square meter of solar panel would render 1.5 KwH [google.com] every day.

This means that each man woman and child would need 174 square meters [google.com] of panel to be responsible for all the energy made and used in their name!

If every person in the united states of America put up solar panels. We would have over 51 billion square meters [google.com] of panel, that's close to 20,000 square miles [google.com] of panel or the equivalent of covering most of over in panels. [enchantedlearning.com]

Now these numbers account for all energy used both domestic, industrial, and exported. Also these numbers do not account for the added or lost efficiency of converting systems over to pure electrical power as opposed to other energy processes like those used in the internal combustion engine.

I left the links to my math in just incase I botched anything.

Other sources (1)

Malluck (413074) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675261)

Now I'd like to do the same kind of calculations for the other power sources, but I'm having some trouble making sence of the units.

Wave power is cited as 25kW/m of wave crest length.

Did they mean wave crest hight or the energy density for a given meter of coast?

Tidal power is cited at 5kW/m^2 at a flow rate of 3m/s. I'm not sure what this 3m/s is refering to. It's not the change in the vericle column of water, otherwise we'd have some really killer tides, so what is it?

Interesting points (4, Interesting)

CBob (722532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675227)

That even when a totally non-CO2 emitting, non-radioactive power source is found we still get the "OMG!! It's could cause xxx", uproar.

Living here in the post-industrial wonderland of NJ, I find this amusing in a bad way.

The other thing that shocked me was the supposedly "higher" costs for "green" energy. Bad news folks, it's lower than what I pay to Conectiv/Pepco.

And now back to our regular insomnia...

Impact on the oceans (2, Insightful)

mishan (146987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675249)

I'm curious as to what potential impact on the ocean wave power may have. I believe there was a /. story recently about how wind power will actually take the kinetic energy out of wind and affect global weather patterns. Surely taking the kinetic energy from the ocean must have some sort of impact on some sort of ecosystem.

Hopefully it won't have any serious negative impact as this technology seems promising.

Energy is not the problem. (1, Insightful)

esteric (859523) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675257)

When will people realize that the real problem here is that there are just too many people?

Waves are cool, but don't forget ... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675273)

Waves are cool, but don't forget ... OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) [hawaii.gov]

My father was a primary designer on this, so I had the "real scoop" on what was going on there in real time, it was real exciting stuff back then!

Mini-OTEC, 1979

In 1979, the first successful at-sea, closed-cycle OTEC operation in the world was conducted aboard the Mini-OTEC, a converted Navy barge operating in waters off Keahole Point.

This plant operated for three months, from August-October 1979, and generated approximately 50 kilowatts of gross power with net power ranging from 10-17 kilowatts.

Its turbine generator produced a gross output of up to 55 kW. About 40 kW were required to pump up 2,700 gallons/min of 42F water from 2200-ft depth through a 24-in diameter polyethylene pipe and an additional 2,700 gallons/min of 79F surface water, leaving a maximum net power output of 15 kW.

This was a joint effort by the State of Hawaii and a private industrial partner.

More linkage: NREL's OTEC site [nrel.gov]

Google [google.com]

Damn you commies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675282)

What's the matter with you people. I need my expensive SUV to drive 20 meters to the store to buy a bag of doughnuts. I don't want none of this pink energy shit. Damn. I want oil.

America invented oil and the doughnut.

This is just a drop in the bucket (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11675284)

Future energy challenges of the United States and the earth in general have a lot more to do with a growing population with more consumption of energy per capita than how we actually generate more energy.

As engineering advances allow us to have more energy, this also allows us to have a higher world population as modern agriculture is highly dependent upon machines (which require energy), pesticides and artificial fertilizers (which require energy to produce) and last but not least transportation (which requires a lot of energy) to get the kind of yields and logistical network to get food from the farms to wherever people happen to be living.

Increasing our ability to generate more energy just creates a bigger problem in that it allows more people to exist on this planet while unchecked by nature's nasty method of population control called starvation.

As long as third world countries can just keep pumping out more and more people and export them to industrialized nations with no real immigration controls (such as the United States), the problem will just get worse and worse.

Get world population under control and you solve most of the short term energy problems the world faces and in the meantime perhaps technology will catch up to the future energy demands of the planet so that humanity can sustain larger populations on the planet. But if you just allow the people of third world countries to breed like crazy and then give all of their people refuge in the wealthier nations, then population growth across the planet will continue to rise exponentially.

Best. Domain name. Ever. (0, Offtopic)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11675290)

treehugger.com. Haw. What Would Cartman Say? ;)
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