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New Wave Power Research Rising Off Oregon Coast

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the less-smoky-than-coal-less-radiationy-than-nuclear dept.

Power 158

necro81 writes "A prototype buoy has been launched off the Oregon coast to try generating electrical power from the ever-present waves. The OSU device works like a giant shake-up flashlight. It is one of several competing designs to take advantage of a potential clean energy goldmine. It will be years before substantial power is contributed to the grid, but several companies have received permits to develop test platforms. The New York Times has an article that surveys the current outlook for wave energy, which it compares to wind energy's prospects back in the 1980s. Concerns about impacts to wildlife and fishing remain to be answered."

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"Current outlook" (5, Funny)

dvonhand (1136711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628651)

Experts predict that current will flow from the anode to the cathode terminal in the near future.

Re:"Current outlook" (4, Funny)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628841)

Great, we now have the nerd equivalent of the Weekly World News Zodiac Astrologer (WWWNZA?). Taurus: Your code will compile with unexpected results. Also a diet of cheetos and soda pop will lead to weight gain. Scorpio: Experts predict that current will flow from the anode to the cathode terminal in the near future. Also romance prospects with your new Macbook Pro look promising. So on and so forth.

Sounds good (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628655)

Sounds like most of the resistance is from the fishing industry, but since it's not a very well proven technology, I'd say they have a fair point. So the current plan - to do some small proof-of-concept wave farms first - seems just the right thing to do. From the end of the article:

Philip D. Moeller, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and a supporter of wave and tidal energy projects, said the government was "not allowing these to go into sensitive areas." Mr. Moeller added, "We haven't defined sensitive area, but the point is we'll be cognizant of that."

He said the commission was encouraging wave energy companies to seek a new five-year "pilot license" the commission has created specifically for wave and tidal energy projects. The license, which could be gained in six months, would let companies set up a short-term wave farm to test technology and demonstrate success to wary investors. If environmental damage became evident, he said, the equipment could be removed from the ocean fairly quickly, something that is far more complicated with dams.

Re:Sounds good (1)

psued0ch (1200431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628713)

I would expect the fishing industry to care more about their shrinking profits that are already compromised due to pollution and overfishing. Even if this technology was proven to be safe and effective, it doesn't seem as if they would care.

Re:Sounds good (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628759)

That's OK, in 20 years when we really need the power, there won't be any more fish in the sea, so there will be no fishing industry to complain.

Re:Sounds good (2, Funny)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628775)

Honestly, if there's any industry that's crippled by this, it's the surfing industry. Unfortunately, they can't afford very good lobbyists.

Re:Sounds good (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629061)

Who do you know that surfs miles offshore?

-jcr

Re:Sounds good (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629277)

Perhaps he was thinking that since the generators will be removing energy from the ocean before it gets to the beach, the waves that form near the shore won't be as big? Although I wouldn't think they would be removing enough energy to matter.

New Wave Power? (3, Funny)

Colonel Sponsz (768423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628663)

So... I'm assuming harnessing New Wave Power off the coast of Oregon will be about dumping Adam & the Ants in the Pacific and attaching a generator and power cables to them? Hey, I'm for it! In fact... screw the turbine. And the cables...

Re:New Wave Power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628739)

I was thinking that this would be about flock of seagulls haircuts, devo hats, and effeminate male lead singers!

Re: Military applications? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628983)

Could this "wave motion" technology be used to power a gun?

Re:New Wave Power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629295)

Adam & The Ants would be "New Romantic" power. "New Wave" power would be Lene Lovich.

No energy is free (3, Insightful)

Eddi3 (1046882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628667)

There's no such thing as free energy. What I wonder, is what this is affecting in the long run, and by how much.

Re:No energy is free (4, Insightful)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628687)

The actual harnessing of the waves probably won't affect much. It would be much worse to create a man-made harbor instead -- all you're doing is breaking down the waves before they break on the beach. The only negative affects would come with giant metal buckets floating in the water with long rods going down to the bottom... some fish might bump their heads...

Laws of Physics (4, Interesting)

charlievarrick (573720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628711)

When wave energy hits a breakwater the energy is dispersed and reflected back into the medium (the ocean). If it hits a a generator it is absorbed and converted into electrical energy. Something like this is taking energy out of a closed system which will have effects. How much? depends on how much energy you take out.

Re:Laws of Physics (5, Informative)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628735)

You're right about the energy being dispersed and reflected, but only a very small portion of wave energy goes back into the ocean. Most of it is absorbed by the beach. If this weren't the case the waves would be just as large going back out as they are coming in. Sure, sometimes the waves going back out are visible, but they are much smaller and it doesn't happen very often -- especially on shallow sandy beaches (think how much energy is lost in (very inelastic) collisions and sound (beaches are loud)).

Re:Laws of Physics (1)

charlievarrick (573720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628793)

I acknowledge your point. But, in the present "natural" system wave energy hits the beach. Removing some of that energy from the "natural" system could lead to unintended results (Maybe wave energy hitting the beach is important for some proccess that we don't currently understand). While I realize that the volume/energy of the oceans is enormous, the same is true of the atmosphere and we may have signifigantly altered its state in the last 100 years.

Re:Laws of Physics (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628809)

Couldn't the same be said about all the wind turbines we're setting up stopping/slowing the wind?

Re:Laws of Physics (3, Insightful)

charlievarrick (573720) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628843)

Sure. Covering a substantial quantity of the earth's surface with solar panels would probably have a substantial effect on surface tempurature/weather patterns. So would releasing all the stored carbon energy by lighting everthing on fire.

two birds one stone (2, Insightful)

DMoylan (65079) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629021)

nah, have you never heard of a lazy wind? it doesn't go around you it goes right through you. :-)

more on topic. if this would reduce wave action there are loads of locations that need very expensive sea defences and we also need to generate power. could we not combine the two by floating these generators off known locations that are been eroded? protect the location and generate power. makes it cheaper to build if you can tap into the others funds.

Re:Laws of Physics (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628815)

You make a very interesting point that I hadn't thought of that I suppose does require some attention. My first thought, however, would be that reducing beach-erosion would be a positive thing... although it is very possible that there are some species of fish and/or crabs that rely on it. That being said, there is a lot of beach on the planet and a good portion of it doesn't get any waves at all. I doubt that these wave power farms will ever cover more than 2% of the world's coastline.

Re:Laws of Physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629031)

Wave energy hitting a beach is important for some process we [engineers] understand better than you might think - coastal erosion. People spend a lot of time fighting coastal erosion. Because it, like, makes the land disappear. In some areas, coastal deposition happens, and the wave energy might (it's complicated) slow that, and slowing it might or might not be desirable (deep-draft harbor vs. golf courses on new sand bar islands...). But in general, these devices would simply slow coastal erosion if they're sapping energy (probably not significant in practice), and that's generally considered a good thing, and has been done deliberately by a range of technologies for centuries.
   

Re:Laws of Physics (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629109)

I would agree with this. A lot of energy is used in moving sand and making loud splashes.

Actually not. (0, Flamebait)

pigiron (104729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628985)

Most of the wave energy is reflected back into the ocean. The ignorance and lack of common sense on Slashdot never ceases to fucking amaze.

Re:Actually not. (4, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629111)

Most of the wave energy is reflected back into the ocean

Most?

Not hardly. If that were the case, the ocean would be a lot rougher than it is. On a sandy or rocky shore, most of the wave's energy grinds the bits of the beach together, creating the sand, and slightly warming the water (which is offset by evaporation). The only places where you get most of the wave returned to the ocean is where it hits sheer, rocky cliffs.

The ignorance and lack of common sense on Slashdot never ceases to fucking amaze.

You amaze yourself?

-jcr

Re:Actually not. (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629537)

I am constantly amazed at my own ignorance and lack of common sense. Anyway, I don't know where that guy came up with the idea that the waves are reflected back and it's some kind of perfect and closed system. If that were the case I think that we would have a real problem on our hands since the tsunami that destroyed the pacific a couple years ago would still be bouncing back and forth between them and our west coast.

Re:Laws of Physics (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628929)

Since when is the Ocean a closed system? As I understood it the Ocean is a chaotic system, affected by the moon, melting of arctic ice, solar radiation, weather patterns, asteroids, river outpours, and a myriad of other inputs.

Effects on the ocean... (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629043)

This isn't usually the best way of looking at things, but power WILL be needed. If we don't get it from this, what else would we do? Wind? Solar? Nuclear? Geo? Regardless of what we do, it will have effects on our environment... This is just another way to affect it.

With wind, we obstruct natural air patterns. With solar, less sunlight will reach earth's surface. With geothermal, we absorb the Earth's very own heat. Any of these could be as intrusive as the other... Which alternative is safer? THAT is the question for our generation to answer. Obviously, reducing the amount of energy expended by the human species is another important part here, too.

The ocean? (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629091)

Something like this is taking energy out of a closed system which will have effects.

The ocean is a closed system?

Re:Laws of Physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629477)

The ocean is hardly a closed system with respect to waves. Waves are caused by wind, not energy permanently stored in the ocean.

Re:No energy is free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628777)

Ox40 -- I protest this because of the poor fish. They can not look out for their own head, we must do it for them. Wouldn't they be bumping their 'noses'?

Re:No energy is free (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628689)

Won't somebody think of the dolphins? They won't be able to jump out of the water anymore!

Re:No energy is free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628703)

You're right! I'm never going swimming again.

Anticipated in 1932 SF novel! (4, Interesting)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628727)

Olaf Stapledon's "Last and First Men" is a mind-boggling future history. Very dated and politically/ideologically goofy in its early parts, then increasingly way-out as humanity nearly dies out, evolves, nearly dies out again, moves to a terraformed Venus . . . and so on, until the 17th and final human species dies out on Neptune 2 billions years from now.

While racing through the history of the cat-like "Third Men," Stapledon notes that one civilization uses tidal power to such an extent that the orbit of the moon is slightly altered!

Re:Anticipated in 1932 SF novel! (1)

somepunk (720296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629369)

We have altered the mass distribution of the planet to a measurable degree by building big dams that create very large lakes behind them. Presumably, this has an effect on the orbit of the moon, although I don't know if it would be detectable.

What counts as a "measurable" effect depends entirely on the sophistication of your instruments, of course. There is a lot that is measurable that is still negligible.

Re:Anticipated in 1932 SF novel! (1)

jagdish (981925) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629575)

Building dams will not affect the mass distribution on the planet. The earth is just too massive.

Re:No energy is free (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628751)

What I wonder, is what this is affecting in the long run, and by how much.

      It will affect mean wave height, and reduce coastal erosion...

Moon falling! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628769)

At least some wave energy is caused by the moon's gravitational field.

Messing with that might suck the moon into the earth!

Re:No energy is free (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628963)

I can't imagine that this would be that much different than wind power. Potentially if they were put into place in strategic places it could subtly reduce the energy that was required to have have hurricanes and cyclones.

Re:No energy is free (5, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628991)

This is a tidal system being changed, so we have to look at the other things effected by the tidal system, like, the Moon. This will certainly slow down the Moon's orbit around the Earth. Now, what will THAT change? First to my mind is: women's menstruation cycles. It will make it take longer between periods, which is a good thing for sure, but on the other hand, it may also lengthen how long she's experiencing it, which is really, really bad. Not sure whether this falls in the pro or con category.

Other things: werewolves. Obviously, same deal as menstruation - less frequent, possibly for longer periods (so to speak). I'd invest in the silver industry, you could probably make a tidy profit on this! I won't make the joke about women being related to werewolves (cuz, you know, they get 'bitchy' at that time), because that would just be obvious and tacky, and this IS Slashdot.

I'm pretty sure vampires are not effected by the Moon, so that's good, though this will not help prevent Dick Cheney attacks, so that's actually disappointing.

As with other clean power production technologies, the animal rights activists will find a way to claim it hurts migratory birds, and I'm sure to some extent that will be true, though they'll likely be harmed a lot less by this than by the pollution produced by conventional power production.

With fewer waves hitting the shoes, less sediment will be drawn into the ocean, so they'll be a bit more sparkly-clean looking, which is good, but there's probably some stuff in there that some ocean creature feeds on, so they'll starve, so that'll be bad.

Most likely a net positive because of the reduced pollution thing, I'm guessing.

Re:No energy is free (1)

carpe.cervisiam (900585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628997)

I wonder if this could be used in areas where coastal erosion is a problem. Seems like a good idea to harvest the wave energy instead of using a breakwater to accomplish the same purpose.

Re:No energy is free (0)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629003)

answer: less beach erosion from less waves. That's where all the energy goes. But anyway, yes there is free energy. It's caleld gravity. Why can't we use gravity to power stuff on Earth? Cuz you have to lift whatever it is back up with equal or greater energy. But the moon comes and goes so it's like the moon's gravity turns on and off. Which brings me to the point I originally wanted to make which is they'd be better of using the tide powered turbines that there was a slashdot story about a while ago. They worked pretty well though they were kinda time dependent lol. It's a LOT of water that moves though and the moon's gravity will never run out.

Re:No energy is free (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629033)

Sure it will, your using up the moons energe and imperceptibly lowering it's orbit. Over a few thousnd years of realyl extensive use of these technologies you could pull the moon right into the earth, at least with the old tidal generators. These new ones are powered by waves which is caused by winds and currents which is caused largely by solar heat so your probably only going to cool the ocean by about 0.01e-1000 degrees. Remeber kids theirs no such thing as a free lunch, entropy increases and for ever action their is an equal and opposite reaction.

Hello, sun-powered earth? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629209)

The heat in the earth's core is powered by the sun. And so is the earth's movement. And the current hurricanes are caused by, guess what? Global warming, which is nothing that the accumulation of... solar power. And the lightning, is powered by the perpetual (yes, perpetual) motion of water vapor (powered by, guess what - the sun!) condensed into raindrops. See all the oil below the Earth's surface? Well, it's nothing but hydrocarbons, which in turn were organic materials created by the food chain which goes down to photosynthesis. Sun again.

In other words, all energy in the Earth is derivated from the sun's nuclear fusion energy. Do you really believe we'll just use it all up by putting some magnetic buoys in the sea?

I don't think so.

Re:Hello, sun-powered earth? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629245)

the perpetual (yes, perpetual) motion of water vapor
Not perpetual. As you pointed out, the Earth is entirely Sun-powered. Perpetual motion, by definition, would continue to move without any further input of energy. Take away the sun, and I can guarantee you that everything other than the Earth's core would stop functioning pretty quickly.

Re:Hello, sun-powered earth? (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629279)

Actually I believe some of this energy is from the potential energy locked in the Earth-Moon system. Specifically if you took all the energy out of tides for long enough you would slow down the earth's rotation till it was tidally locked to the moon.

Re:No energy is free (1, Troll)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629285)

Jesus wept. +4 insightful? What is this, straw-chewers weekly? I thought a basic general knowledge grasp of physics was expected around here, but when I see posts like that I gots to wonders

Re:No energy is free (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 6 years ago | (#21630023)

Given the huge amount of extra energy being pumped into the oceans via global warming, taking a bit out again to generate electricity is probably a good thing.

Experts confirm (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628669)

the only way to generate more power
is to put a nigger on a treadmill and put a basketball or a food stamp or a picture of a fat white woman in front of his nose!

LIsa!!... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628671)

...in this house we respect the laws of thermodynamics.

Implemented on a commercially viable scale this is sure to have unintended enviromental consequences.

Re:LIsa!!... (0, Redundant)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628701)

Yes it will probably have consequences - but nothing compared to what we've done on land. Most of the Earth is covered in water... and how much of that water is covered by buildings and streets and sidewalks? Not a whole lot compared to what we've done on land. And if people are concerned about using the energy of waves, they just haven't thought about it enough. Essentially what they're doing is moving the beach out to wherever these things go. When waves hit the beach the majority of their energy does not go back into the ocean.

Re:LIsa!!... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628785)

Blah blah whine whine consequences schmonsequences.

Anchoring is the issue (2, Informative)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628733)

Biggest problem with using a 'float height' generation system is the bottom anchor. The seafloor isn't all that sturdy to support constant tugging. Plus, the conservationists will have a point in that the bottom anchors will be disruptive to the seafloor ecology.

Re:Anchoring is the issue (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628945)

Lots of structures are anchored to the sea floor. Think of harbours, jetties, oil rigs, bridges and the like. This has been done for thousands of years, so the know how is there.

Re:Anchoring is the issue (1)

GwaihirBW (1155487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629503)

However, all of those mentioned objects have the advantage of being heavy things *sitting on* the seafloor. The only tugging going on is on lateral support cables, if they are needed. If you have a system that is actively pulling upwards against an anchor, it's going to require a lot more work to set up, and will probably require more maintenance even before you consider that they want these in wave-heavy zones that may coincide nicely with unstable, rapidly moving seafloor. All in all, recipe for difficult engineering challenges. (Although I agree that it's not impossible!)

Re:Anchoring is the issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629591)

It's not as bad as you think. The oil drilling industry uses tension leg platforms for drilling in deep water. These work by attaching anchors to the sea floor, and the cables are pulled tight by the buoyancy force. This restricts the load on the drillshaft from waves, tides, and lateral movement of the platform. If they can do it with 10,000 ton drilling rigs in mile deep water, it can be done with 10-100 ton generators in a few hundred feet of water (with the net buoyancy being only on the order of 2 tons according to one of the presentations on the OSU site).

Consider the forces on the anchor. It basically amounts to the buoyant force of the magnet, plus the force transferred as the inductive coil floats up around it. The buoyant force of the magnet has to be equal to the inductive force plus some reserve in order to keep it from moving during the downward stroke of the coil. It probably amounts to a few tons of concrete, roughly one truckload, per buoy...less if their construction technique involves drilling into the seabed and pouring interstitially, instead of merely setting a block on top of the seabed.

The sea tends to be a harsh mistress, however. I foresee them breaking a quite a few prototypes, but I should think they'll get it right without too much trouble.

Working Large Scale (1)

mthomp16 (1152599) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628791)

Just looking at the basic idea, using tidal motion and waves for power generation, makes sense. However, the questions that should be asked before making this large scale, and common, would be: -What waters as best suited for this equipment? -Does the buoy generator system constitute a hazard to navigation? Not only for fishing, but the vast majority of cargo moves by sea. -Will the money from power production cover the cost of placing and maintaining the buoys? It's an interesting idea, but will it turn out to be something that fails?

Not this shiat again (5, Funny)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628795)

Someone needs to create something along the lines of the spam solutions template, [craphound.com] but for new technologies (like wave power or wind farms).

I'll start:
(things in bold can be easily replaced)

Your solution advocates a

(*) technical ( ) legislative (*) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to solving a looming energy problem. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state or country to country before a bad federal or international law was passed.)

(*) It will be fought by entrenched fishing interests
(*) It will be fought by entrenched energy corporations
(*) It will be fought by ______________
(*) It will succumb to NIMBY Syndrome
(*) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Technology doesn't work that way
(*) NIMBY Syndrome will prevent mass deployment

Specifically, your plan fails to account for:

(*) Idiots with boats
( ) International reluctance to engage in sweeping change
(*) Technically illiterate politicians
(*) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who vote
( ) A lack of support from famous Musicians and Actors
(*) Conflicting environmental interests

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

( ) The money could be better spent curing cancer
( ) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
(*) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
(*) Your solution is expensive
(*) Your solution may be politically infeasible
( ) The money could be better spent implementing [other] solution
( ) It makes life harder, not easier

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(*) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

You get the idea. Please improve it.
Not that I'm shitting on wave power, but NIMBY, questions about environmental impact and the fishing & energy industries could seriously crimp any offshore plans.

Environmentalists will shut this down (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629011)

Little point looking into wave power, environmentalists will just shut it down.
They have shut down wind farms (Nantucket Sound ala Ted Kennedy, and Walter Cronkite)
They are trying to reverse hydro-power (dam removal in the northwest)
They have killed off nuclear (oh, just pick one)

At some point you just give up and keep buying oil.

Really I don't think the environmentalists (a) believe what they say, and (b) actually want to solve anything.
Most of their actions are either just about narcissism and having something to bitch about (usually yelling at society when they really want to yell at their Dad).

If I thought they actually cared and were working to get things done, I'd be more supportive, but close interaction which the people has turned me very very off to their message.

Re:Environmentalists will shut this down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629053)

The "environmentalists" who whine about how wind farms are ugly are no such thing. They are at best a few kooks who, as you say, are simply narcissists.

Why not check the positions of large organizations like the Sierra Club, the Green Party, and Greenpeace? They're not quite the nutjobs you think.

Re:Environmentalists will shut this down (4, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629229)

Really I don't think the environmentalists (a) believe what they say, and (b) actually want to solve anything.

There are environmentalists, and there are misanthropes who pretend to be environmentalists. The former are enthusiastic about alternative energy sources. The latter want us all to just freeze in the dark.

-jcr

Re:Environmentalists will shut this down (1)

GwaihirBW (1155487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629523)

There are environmentalists, and there are misanthropes who pretend to be environmentalists. The former are enthusiastic about alternative energy sources. The latter want us all to just freeze in the dark.

Hey, hey, that's not fair! Some of them want us to burn or explode instead! Represent all sides of the fringe equally! ;-b

Re:Not this shiat again (1)

Myrcutio (1006333) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629145)

while i don't really have a response to that, it does give me some ideas. You know how jobs are moving away from manual labor in lieu of robotics, and mostly towards technology and research? It would be interesting if the power grid became a free market, where anyone who generates power could sell it stock market style. Instead of spending 8 hours a day in a cubicle farm, spend it setting up and maintaining a wave farm if your on the coast, a thermal farm in warmer climates, the list goes on.

The best way to incite change is to make it profitable. and yes, i know that would require sweeping change, we're all wrong anyways so why not be wrong on a grand scale.

New Wave Power? (4, Funny)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628807)

New Wave [wikipedia.org] Power [wikipedia.org] is gonna fucking kick ass. Why hasn't anyone thought of this sooner?

AFI (1)

ink (4325) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628915)

Oh, it's been done [youtube.com] . I'm not so sure about the 'awesome' part though.

Re:AFI (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629211)

It's not as bad as say, HIM [youtube.com] , but I won't be listening to them again. I actually thought is was alright until I discovered that he's saying "kiss my eyes" and not "kiss my ass".

Wave and Tidal... (4, Informative)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628825)

It always surprised me that wave and tidal energy weren't harnessed more. Wave energy is really just wind energy thrown into a thick medium which should allow us to extract it in all its concentrated goodness. (And wind, in turn, is caused by solar heating.)

But what always seemed more dramatic to me, however, are the tides. Especially living in an area with the highest tides in the world, seeing phenomenal amounts of water come in and out with a 6 foot difference, twice a day, always struck me as having a lot more potential (ha ha) than other sources of renewable energy. Effectively harnessing the gravitation pull of our moon through the tides, always seemed to me to be a solution that was too good to be true. There are days when the sea is calm and the wing generators are slower due to lack of wind; coal and oil prices vary wildly. But nothing stops the tides, day or night; the energy available and its cost is 100% predictable, which is a rarity among energy sources.

In Nova Scotia, we have tidal power plant [nspower.ca] which generates power from the tides. However, it seems to be in a constant state of research, politics, grants, and such, and is fairly small. (Even twenty years ago, it was in this state; instead of referring to it by its name, the "Fundy Tidal Project," people used to refer to it as the "Tidy Fundal Project.") The amount of energy that could be captured from even a small part of the Bay of Fundy [wikipedia.org] is staggering. Yes, it would be quite an engineering feat, but not really anything beyond other megaprojects. It's sad we haven't progressed further in harnessing this.

Global calamity (4, Funny)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628891)

Let me be the first to object to using tidal energy as a "renewable" resource. Don't people know that it will cause the moon to fly away from the Earth at ever increasing speeds? It's not like the energy is free, you know. Call me a lunatic if you'd like, but I refuse to destroy our moon just to let people run their massive new television sets.

Re:Global calamity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629081)

I know you were trying to be funny, but I'll just throw out there that tapping tidal energy removes energy from the orbit of the moon. As a result, the moon's orbit would gradually decay until it collides with the Earth, not fly away.

On the other hand, if you consider the monumental mass of the moon (7E25 grams), and its distance from the Earth (4E8 meters), and do the integral to figure out what the energy change is if the moon suddenly was right on top of the Earth, I think you'll find that it's probably many, many orders of magnitude larger than all the energy used by mankind since civilization began. So, I think we're safe for the time being.

Re:Global calamity (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629301)

The interesting thing is that when the moon tries to drag it's tides along and can't (since the continents get in the way), the result is a "lump" on one side of earth where the tides are held up. As a result, we effectively have an asymmetry in earth's mass that is not down the earth-moon axis; As a result of the mass' gravitational attraction to the moon, there is a net torque that saps earth's angular momentum and transfers it to the moon's orbit, causing the moon to spiral out over time. I doubt we can draw more power from the tides than they transfer to the moon...

That's not all (2, Funny)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629095)

It doesn't just slow the moon (causing it to fly further away). It also slows down the earth's rotation until it matches the moon's orbital period! Do we really want to tap a power source which will ultimately result in a day being 709 hours long, if not longer as the moon flies further away? Hmm, I suppose if we don't update our labor laws mandating 8-hour workdays it might not be so bad...

Re:That's not all (1)

GwaihirBW (1155487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629533)

I'm cool with that if we can calibrate correctly and stop it somewhere in the 30-36 range. That'd be just about right. I could maintain a daily sleep schedule for more than 2 days at a time, it'd be *amazing*! >.>

Re:Global calamity (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629281)

Uh, do you realize just how MUCH energy would need to be extracted from such a system to have any actual effects on the moon? You could probably run our entire world electrical use for a billion years before anything happened there.

Re:Wave and Tidal... (2, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628925)

The problem is synchronizing the generated energy with the grid. Power electronics have now advanced to the point where it is possible to generate power any which way and then convert it electronically to suit the grid. This was not possible before. Consequently the new designs for wave power generation can be much simpler than they would have needed to be in order to maintain synchronization mechanically. For example, these tethered buoys will generate AC at the same frequency as the waves, which is a very low frequency and also somewhat erratic. The only way to hook that to the grid, is through expensive electronic conversion, but irrespective of the cost, this simply wasn't possible until about 20 years ago.

Re:Wave and Tidal... (1)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629761)

The problem is synchronizing the generated energy with the grid ... This was not possible before.
Maybe not electronically, but asynchronous conversion is nothing new - it's been done using mechanical systems for the last century, with remarkably high efficiencies (e.g. >85%).

Really, it's no more difficult than converting the non-alternating output of e.g. steam boilers or pressurised water into synchronised AC power - something which has been done since the advent of AC power generation.

Re:Wave and Tidal... (3, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628927)

Well for tidal power there are a few problems.
1. They Bay of Fundy is kind of unusual. There is a lack of sites that are really that good.
2. Enviromental impact. Tidal areas tend to be very sensitive.
3. Cost. Except at few places tidal energy isn't very dense. It would require constructing huge systems.

Troubles with tidal power (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629411)

1. They Bay of Fundy is kind of unusual. There is a lack of sites that are really that good.
2. Enviromental impact. Tidal areas tend to be very sensitive.
3. Cost. Except at few places tidal energy isn't very dense. It would require constructing huge systems.

That's right. The Bay of Fundy is about the best tidal spot on the planet. [thehopewellrocks.ca] I've seen a study on possible locations for tidal power plants, and there are only about ten good sites in the world. Such a site needs a bay with a narrow mouth suitable for a dam, and that's just the minimum. Only bays that are the right size and shape to have a resonance with the tide cycle yield really high tides, like the Bay of Fundy.

There's been some interest in putting underwater turbines at the Golden Gate near San Francisco. Water depth at the Golden Gate is 130 meters, which is unusually deep for a bay mouth, so this might actually work. But that's one of very few possible sites in the US.

Good tidal power sites are about as rare as Niagara Falls-sized waterfalls.

Re:Troubles with tidal power (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629505)

One possible solution: build more bays. Sure, it's disruptive for the surrounding ecology, but no more so than what we've done for hydroelectric dams on rivers.

Re:Wave and Tidal... (2, Interesting)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629611)

It has been estimated by scientists that more water flows in and out of the bay of fundy
every 12.4 hrs than all the rivers in the world.

If true, it would be more than enough to power all of North America by itself with
passive underwater Aquanators.( underwater Venturi focused turbines )

230 billion tonnes of water per day.

That is some serious generating capacity.

Scotlands cool wave tech (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628979)

Scotland has all sorts of cool wave projects on the go.

There's a cool sub-sea wave farm which use the pressure changes to drive a generator.
http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/wave-power-scotland/ [alternativ...-news.info]

A huge 'snank' made of several sections, there are hydraulic rams between each section, which drive a generator.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4805076.stm [bbc.co.uk]

The Isle wave project which uses wave power at the shoreline. When the wave hits it fills a tank, pushing out air to drive a turbine. The first one worked really well in the 70's but just after it was built there was a bad storm which trashed it!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1032148.stm [bbc.co.uk]

"New Wave" power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629055)

This is just another perennial perpetual motion machine-like gimmicks...
Duran Duran -> Duran Duran Duran -> Duran Duran Duran Duran...

New Wave? (1)

smcdow (114828) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629103)

Wasn't that back in the late-70s/early-80s?

Pure coincidence that I happened to be listening to "The Pleasure Principle" when I checked to see what was happening on Slashdot.

Rock on Polymoogs!

Misleading Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629167)

"The OSU device..."

There is only one The OSU, and it is #1 in the BCS right now.

Oregon Hemp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629227)

Hemp for fuel, food, medicine, and more!

Legalize it!

Going Gulfing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21629649)

A perfect story. Whatever became of that popular science story about harnessing the Gulf Stream?

works like a giant shake-up flashlight... (3, Funny)

elyk (970302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629795)

saves them work - those things tend to be waterproof already.
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