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One renewable energy resource that's rarely discussed here, but is already being developed, is the moon. The moon's gravity sends an almost unimaginable quantity of water sloshing back and forth between continents. It happens a couple of times each day and it's called the tides. As any sailor who's tried to beat home against a tidal current can tell you, the amount of energy involved is phenomenal.

There are already several tidal generation works around the world humming, or splashing, along and providing almost free electricity. Since most of our population lives near the coast, shouldn't we considering developing moon, I mean tidal, power.

More below

The photo above the fold is of the largest tidal power station in the world. It's in the Rance estuary in northern France and was built in 1966. Actually residents of coastal England and France have used tidal energy to turn water wheels and for grain mills since the eleventh century. Though tidal generation is often thought to be very expensive and usable only on a large scale, new technologies are rapidly overcoming those drawbacks.

Comparing tidal energy to wind or solar energy reveals some major advantages:

·    Tidal energy is reliable, predictable and does not depend on the weather. It doesn't go off-line when it's cloudy or when the wind stops blowing.

·    Once the generation facility is built, tidal power is free.
·    Maintenance is not expensive.
·    No greenhouse gases or other waste is produced.
·    Because seawater has a much higher density than air, ocean currents carry significantly more energy than wind.
·    Newer turbine technology is said to cost about the same as wind power.
·    This is a resource that's available worldwide from deep ocean waters.
·    Construction of large-scale offshore devices results in new areas of sheltered water, attractive for fish, sea birds, seals and seaweed. And it presents no difficulty to migrating fish (except barrages and perhaps tidal fences). No birds are killed.
·    Some turbines can be completely submerged and so are invisible to those who say wind farms ruin the view.


There are three main types of tidal power plants.

Barrages

The Rance estuary station is a 240mw barrage type plant, the simplest tidal generating system Also known as an ebb generating system it involves a dam, known as a barrage, across an estuary. Sluice gates on the barrage allow the tidal basin to fill on the incoming high tides and to exit through the turbine system on the outgoing, or ebb, tide.

These plants are obviously very expensive to build and environmentally harmful. The environment is changed for many miles upstream and downstream. Many birds rely on the tide uncovering the mud flats so that they can feed. On the other hand, in some cases barrages can protect a large stretch of coastline from damage from high storm tides and they can be used as road bridges. There are relatively few suitable sites for tidal barrages. Currently France, China, and Russia operate barrage plants.

Tidal lagoon plants are similar to barrages, but use a man-made pool to store water. They eliminate many of the environmental damage caused by `traditional' barrages' and open more locations to this technology.

Tidal Fences

Tidal fences are a series of vertical axis turbines which are mounted within the fence structure, or caisson. Imagine giant turnstiles blocking a channel and forcing all of the water through the turbines. Tidal fences can also be used in unconfined basins, such as in the channel between the mainland and a nearby off shore island, or between two islands.

Tidal fences have less impact on the environment than barrages and are less expensive. A 2.2GWp tidal fence is being planned for the San Bernadino Strait in the Philippines. The project, estimated to cost $US 2.8 Billion and take 6 years to complete. Canadian company Blue Energy is a leader in this technology and has an informative site.

Offshore Turbines

Offshore turbines promise simpler and less expensive tidal energy. These may resemble an underwater wind farm.

This is still very new technology, But an experimental tidal power station was installed in Kvalsundet, south of Hammerfest, Norway, and became operational in November 2003. The installed tidal power turbine generates a maximum of 300 kW at a maximum speed of the current of 2.5 m/s. Here's a link.

Another tidal turbine was installed two years ago off the Devon coast. If it performs as expected, the consortium behind it hopes to build a whole set of turbines in the area - a tidal farm. This is from a press release from the manufacturer:

The Seaflow 300kW experimental turbine 3km offshore from Lynmouth, Devon, has now been operational for more than two years. This is a world record, as no other marine renewable energy technology of this scale has functioned in a truly offshore environment for as long as this. In recent months consistent automatic operation, usually monitored from our Bristol head office, has been achieved with high levels of reliability.

[This photo shows the turbine raised for maintenance]

One of the more interesting recent developments in offshore turbines are anchored units that `float' in the tidal stream. Below is an illustration from SMD Hydrovision:

Tidal Energy Potential

It has been reported that tidal energy could supply 27% of Britain's power requirements. The EU JOULE II Energy Research Program in 1996 identified 106 locations of interest around the European coastline. The primary sites of interest are in the UK, France, Greece and Italy. The EU's Atlas program site has information on some potential and promising sites around the world. The World Energy Council also has a comprehensive list of sites on their tidal energy page.

I'm not aware of any large-scale studies done in the US to assess total potential. But the Maine coast has tremendous potential and near perfect geography for tidal energy development. Promising areas along the California and Northwest coasts have also been identified.

The US is lagging in tidal technology. Most design work seems to be done by British firms with the strong support of their government. When it comes to tidal Energy, Britannia may once again rule the seas.

Cross posted on European Tribune.

Originally posted to Chris Kulczycki on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 04:17 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar. (4.00)

    If you know of any other sustainable energy developments we're ignoring, please tell us in a comment below.

    Thanks.

    "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

    by Chris Kulczycki on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 04:18:03 AM PST

    •  this is great, Chris (none)
      I intend to pass this along...thanks!

      "Once in awhile you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right."

      by Glic on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 04:29:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tidal turbines look great (4.00)
        Tidal Turbines could be part of a real energy policy in the USA, but of course we first need to toss out the  fossil fuel crazed Bush anc Cheney, two of the most short-sighted, greedy individuals to ever tread the earth.

        As Chris points out, our population is concentrated along the coasts, these turbines could be easily placed in the Chesapeake Bay, and every kwh they replace from the 52% coal burning power stations in Maryland will help to lower pollution.

        Where will we find the congress critters to work on something like this?  Wayne Gilchrest has jumped to the side of the Repug leaders with his recent vote for the oil industry payoff bill, what a disappointment Wayne, you pretended to be an environmentalist in your Repug clothes.

    •  Damn best Science Friday edition ever (4.00)
      and I'll bet even DarkSyde would agree!!!
      Thanks so much, it was like watching NOVA!
      As an architect I especially appreciated this.
    •  I read just recently (none)
      about some new design they were going to test in Australia. Damned if I can find the article, but I do recall something about it being 3 stories high ... i'll keep googling ....

      Give us back the America we trust and respect!!!

      by icerat on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 06:13:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thoughts on implementation in the U.S. (4.00)
      Great diary.  Many thanks for bringing this to our attention and giving such a great overview.

      Now, on the politics, how do we go about pushing for implementation of this?  You've mentioned some pilot projects.  Who supports these on the Hill, and who's opposed?  We can all guess the obvious opponents, but it would be great to be able to compile full lists of supporters and opponents.  Are there environmental orgs. already pushing this in Washington?  If not, we should organize to do some grassroots lobbying.  For example, you mentioned a pilot project in the Chesapeake Bay, so MD Kossacks could try to energize their reps. and senators on this.  How can funding for such projects be included in future transportation bills?  Some of these models can be built under bridges, etc.  (Hey, maybe Stevens will agree to put turbines under the bridge to nowhere?  Then he can string up disco lights for the moose and wolves.)

      Just some thoughts, and maybe others are already working on this and have thought these things through.  If not, let's get started.

    •  Excellent diary (4.00)
      Here's EDF's site in English about the plant on La Rance.

      According to them, the historical production cost (over 30 years) of a MWh is 18 euros, which easily makes the cheapest power source around.

      In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
      Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

      by Jerome a Paris on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:10:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  beautiful diary, and (none)
      (likely to your chagrin) i know of another major sustainable source of energy- nuclear power. (ducking for cover)
      •  Non-renewable (none)
        I too think nuclear power will be important, because it the most readily exploitable non-carbon resource we have right now.

        But it is emphatically NOT renewable. There is only so much fissile material in the planet, and while breeder reactors (which are unpopular because they produce weapons-grade plutonium --  a serious proliferation risk) cna extend the date of "peak uranium" out a few hundred years, we will eventually run out of fissionable material.

        TANSTAAFL.

        So, while I'm that rarity: an environmentally-minded liberal who doesn't totally object to nuclear power, it isn't a permanent or renewable solution.

        [-7.13, -8.41 http://www.politicalcompass.org/]

        by evilpenguin on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:49:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I cannot recall where I heard this, (none)
          perhaps on a program on Air America Radio, but some study concludes that there is no net energy gain from mined uranium until at least 8 years after the uranium has been in use in a nuclear reactor, by reason of the costs in fossil fuels to mine and transport it, and to produce the power plants.
          •  Sort of (none)
            You are correct that it takes ~8 years of reactor operation to recover the energy it took to build the plant and refine the fuel. But it takes similar amounts of time for other types of power plant.

            This difference is part of why power companies are so keen to manage demand, offering incentives to get people to co-gen or to install demand side management (which allows the utility to shut off high consumption devices like heaters and air conditioners on a rotating basis). This allows them to avoid the huge up-front capital investment in new plant as long as possible.

            I don't have figures on natural gas plants and coal plants, but it would not surprise me to hear that it was only slightly less than the time for nuclear plants.

            Yes, the gas centrifuge process used to cull out the rarer fissionable isotope of uranium takes a great deal of power (imagine the amount of heat it takes to vaporize uranium). I am not an expert on this subject, but I believe that this has been done with both hydro-power and plants powered by fast breeder reactors and run by the US gov't. If it had been done any other way, it would not have been economically feasible. This is mere hearsay on my part. As I said, I am not a nuclear engineer (but my brother is an ex-Navy Nuc and he knows a great deal about this stuff - I tend to parrot him a lot).

            For what it is worth, my favorite renewable source, solar photovoltaics, take anywhere from 9-15 years to payback their energy cost to manufacture, depending on the type of PV material and panel. Thin films at the low end, mono-crystalline silicon at the high end.

            Every energy production technology has a "payback time."

            TANSTAAFL.

            [-7.13, -8.41 http://www.politicalcompass.org/]

            by evilpenguin on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:30:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Um, yikes? (none)
              So, with a 9-15 year period just to break even on an energy basis (let alone cost), why do you favor PV so much?  It seems like a weak (if any) payoff on energy and a poor payoff on investment money.

              I have heard PV cells degrade pretty badly as well, so that I wonder how practical it is to expect most non-utility run PV systems to really be fully functional after such a long time - I'll wager most cells sold to consumers NEVER pay off the energy that went into making them.

              That said, I've heard rumors of newer PV materials that could really improve the situation.

              Still ... I'd put more hope in improving wind technology, tidal/current water systems, or researching solar-thermal systems as long term payoffs.

            •  gas centrifuges and power requirements (none)

              The old way of enriching uranium, by gaseous diffusion, does require enormous amounts of power.

              Gas centrifuges do need significant power, but it is far less.   And for reactors you need only enrich a moderate amount, much less than for nuclear weaponry.

              The fact that uranium has such a high energy density versus fossil fuels means that it's worth quite a bit of energy to do so.

              Exploration for uranium has been far less rigorous than for fossil fuels.   And there's always reprocessing, and breeders.

              Though probably superior is the thorium cycle and there's lots more thorium.

              Anwyay, worrying about the fuel for nuclear fission should not be significant: it is not a problem for tens of centuries.

              We have to worry about climate change and peak oil in 1.5 generations.  Look the climate projections for 2200 or 2300.  They're horrifying.

              Nuclear power is NOT a competitor to wind power, tidal or solar, or any of those other good things.   It is properly viewed as a competitor to coal.

              We needs nukes and wind and biofuels. As much as possible, as soon as possible.

        •  OT -- Heinlein Rocks! (none)
          So do Mike, the Professor, Man and Wyoh
          •  Yeah, heard from Heinlein (none)
            ...but R.A.H. didn't actually coin the term "TANSTAAFL." It was a common acronym in engineering schools back then. And that was Heinlein's education.

            His books are probably the only place you'll find it these days, though.

            For those who don't know:

            TANSTAAFL: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

            [-7.13, -8.41 http://www.politicalcompass.org/]

            by evilpenguin on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 12:41:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have always hated this acronym (none)
              ...because it was used ad nauseum on yard signs, bumper stickers, buttons, etc. for paleo-wingnut Steve Symms when I was a callow youth in Idaho.

              Incidentally, it wasn't until just now, when I looked up the Wikipedia link above, that I discovered Symms' role in smearing Kitty Dukakis at the behest of Lee Atwater. What a pig.

        •  well, (none)
          i'm guessing the uranium supply far exceeds a few hundred years.
          •  Actually, it doesn't (none)
            Not here on earth anyways. This (definitely anti-nuke) site does have correct numbers on esitmated uranium reserves using current reactor designs.

            They suggest that there is only 30-40 years worth of nuclear fuel left.

            I don't disagree with that number given the assumption that current reactor designs are all that are used.

            But current reactor designs recover only about 4% of the U-235 in the fuel.  There are other reactor designs that will use more and produce a number of highly energetic (and admittedly very dangerous) Plutonium isotopes and there are Plutonium reactor designs.

            Plutonium has been avoided in power generation for two good reasons: first, it is possibly the most toxic substance on earth. Second, it can be much more easily weaponized than uranium.

            I'm not sure how long we would have if we used all the possible permutations of fissile materials, but it is finite.
             

            [-7.13, -8.41 http://www.politicalcompass.org/]

            by evilpenguin on Sat Nov 12, 2005 at 07:08:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Just Curious - Static gen.? (none)
      Matt above was poking fun at carbon-nanotube fiber static electricity generators hung from geostationary satellites   I remember reading something about this, maybe in SciAm?  Is this something that could work tethered on one end to a floating barge & secured to the seafloor at the other end?  Anybody looking at this, or do I have the science dead wrong? (or both!:-)  I'll see if I can't dig up that article.
      •  The carbon-nanotube 'beanstalks' (none)
        are actually an incredibly promising technology not just for power generation, but as a truly viable means to move human activity (work, habitation, etc.) off-planet as it would provide a stable, affordable and continuous "elevator" to space.

        cheers,

        Mitch Gore

        Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

        by Lestatdelc on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:40:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I have a couple (4.00)
      Cold Energy
      http://www.coldenergyllc.com/...
      ACM is a system for the generation of energy based upon differences in the atmospheric pressure at geographically spaced sites, and comprises at least one long conduit - in the order of many miles long. In operation, the air flow in the conduit will accelerate to a high velocity wind without the consumption of any materials and without the use of any mechanical moving parts. A power converter, such as a wind turbine, in the conduit converts the high wind velocity generated by even small pressure differences into energy of any desired type.

      The opposite open ends of the conduit are located at geographically spaced sites, selected on the basis of historical information indicating a useful difference in barometric pressure. A plurality of conduits, each having open ends in different geographically spaced sites, may be interconnected to maximize the existing pressure differences, and will produce higher and more consistent levels of energy production. The ACM conduit configuration of the invention can transform even barometric pressure differences in the order of one tenth pound per square inch into wind velocities in the sonic range.

      Bobbing Turbines
      Bobbing Turbines
      MANCHESTER, UK -- Think of a cork bouncing up and down in the waves.  Think of harnessing that up and down motion.  That is what a group from the University of Manchester is doing, in partnership with Mowlem plc and Royal Haskoning.

      Their patented new wave energy device is known as the 'Manchester Bobber' -- a suitable name considering that Manchester was famous for bobbins, back in the cotton era.

    •  Treehugger.com (none)
      For those interested, Treehugger.com frequently covers stuff like that.

      The "Alternative Energy" category is probably a good place to start:

      http://www.treehugger.com/...

    •  Tidal Energy in New York (none)
      There has been some work on developing a simular sytem in New York City's East River....

      Check this out:

      http://www.verdantpower.com/...

  •  Excellent article (none)
    Are you familiar with "sea sauasages"?? seriously its not some play on words like the now hilarious "hide the Chalabi"
  •  Moon Power!!! (4.00)
    I love it.

    Here the whole world is awash (yah, pun intended) with energy and we're stuck in the mindset of burning stuff to create energy.  No wonder the world is getting so out of whack.

    Another great energy diary!  Thanks.

    Have you looked into thermal depolymerization?
    If it can be downsized a bit, this would help clean up feedlots, turkeyguts, discarded tires and other uglies we've created.  And, it yields sweet oil and whatever else was in the original.
    Similar to biodiesel, but broader.

    And--the fact that hemp would be even better and cheaper as a biodiesel plant than corn should be discussed.

    A borrow and binge republican's head explodes when its pointed out that the high tax era was our longest sustained growth. oooops there goes another one

    by maybeeso in michigan on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 04:29:14 AM PST

    •  Give Up..... (none)
      Over a year ago I brought this process up and got blasted here.
      For what it is worth I complete agree with you.
      •  dukestriker you're right and Thanks (none)
        there's a basic hangup here---it'll work out and isn't worth arguing about in the here and now.

        Good process---needed and useful

        A borrow and binge republican's head explodes when its pointed out that the high tax era was our longest sustained growth. oooops there goes another one

        by maybeeso in michigan on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:16:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Blasted? (4.00)
      Thermal depolymerization is going to be a useful process. I think the reason the other poster on this thread was "blasted" is because it isn't a net-energy gainer. The amount of energy that you have to put in to the process is greater than the energy you get out (as is true, in fact, with all energy conversion processes: 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The change in entropy is always greater than zero.)

      In other words, when you combine the energy that you had to input to produce the waste to be depolymerized and the energy you must put in for the process, that amount will be significantly greater than the amount you get by burning the resulting oil.

      So the process is doomed, right? No. Because oil is a useful product. Useful for plastics, lubrication, and a transportation fuel.

      If you power your thermal depolymerization plant with a renewable resource, like solar, wind, hydro, tidal, etc. then the oil you produce can be something you burn when the sun isn't shining, the wind isn't blowing, the tide is turning, etc.

      Also, you can't put enough solar panels on a car to make a particularly useful car. But you can have a big stationary set of solar panels powering a TD plant making oil you can use in good old combustion engines.

      So TD isn't a way out of the forthcoming energy crisis, but it is another way in which you can store and make more use of otherwise "inconvenient" renewables.

      I'm not sure how the efficiency of TD compares to directly producing ethanol or biodiesel, however. It may be a loser compared to those. I don't know.

      Be aware, however, that TD will never be able to produce as much oil as we presently use. The amount we use is quite staggering: 22 million barrels per day in the US in 2002 (source: EIA, DoE). A barrel is 42 US Gallons.

      If the "natural" sources of oil "dry up" (and peak oil doesn't mean the oil is gone, only that there will be less and less on the market from the peak onwards) then our appetite for oil simply must shrink. It must.

      So TD is going to be an important process. It may be the only way we can make some of the polymers that are necessary for many high-tech medical and electronics applications. It may even be an important source for transportation fuel. But it won't support our 22 million barrel per day habit.

      [-7.13, -8.41 http://www.politicalcompass.org/]

      by evilpenguin on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:42:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm considering the waste to be converted to be (none)
        free except for costs to get it to the TD site.  

        A turkey processing plant (assuming a sane society that doesn't feed possibly diseased animal parts back to other animals [ahem, cattle industry]), will need to dispose of the turkey guts etc somehow.  

        Waste is a cattle or hog feedlot or poultry grower or egg producer needs to be cleaned up to keep it from polluting groundwater. And, have you seen the pictures where mountains of used tires burn for months or years?

        The other payback is that we ARE cleaning up these messes.

        A borrow and binge republican's head explodes when its pointed out that the high tax era was our longest sustained growth. oooops there goes another one

        by maybeeso in michigan on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 12:26:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You can consider it, but that don't make it so... (none)
          I understand where you are coming from, but you can't just dismiss the energy required to make the waste. You can't grow turkeys without growing feed. You can't grow feed without energy.

          TD doesn't magically make energy from anything. It makes oil out of stuff you have. But it takes energy to make the stuff, and right now, that energy comes from oil.

          I stand by what I said above. TD will be an important process, but it isn't a panacea for peak oil.

          [-7.13, -8.41 http://www.politicalcompass.org/]

          by evilpenguin on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 12:44:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not the point (none)
            It is true that energy must be used in order to create the pig waste, or turkey entrails or whatever we wish to thermally depolymerize, but that energy would be used anyway, to make our turkeys or pork chops or whatever.  This waste would traditionally be thrown away, along with all the energy that went into making it in the first place.  TD would reclaim that energy, and the source of that energy is essentially free for our purposes, for the energy that is used in its creation would be used anyway.  Rather than seeing TD as some sort of energy storage solution, or a possible painkiller for peak oil woes, you should see it as hyper-conservation.  
            •  Shaking my head (none)
              Yes, but how much TD could you do if your only source of energy was oil from TD? That's my point. It isn't hyperconservation. It is an energy sink. Nothing you have said shows me that it isn't (and I am willing to bet big bucks that you can't).

              [-7.13, -8.41 http://www.politicalcompass.org/]

              by evilpenguin on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 03:44:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't think anyone said that the only energy to (none)
                run the thermal depolymerization process has to come from the process itself.  Solar power or wind power would work well with it, and if all it did was power itself and clean up the stinkies, it would still be a plus.  If no net energy were created---unlikely or it will never draw investers and there are some pretty powerful ones into TD----we would get the benefit of a nicer and healthier environment.

                There was a diary that I haven't been able to find talking about solar roofs for barns to help pay energy costs of the biodiesel process.

                I've been wondering if the processes could be built down to small and inexpensive enough units to handle waste just from small towns---and it would have to be fairly small because each batch must be like kind stuff.   How about using the waste from pumped septic tanks?  or maybe composting toilets?  or.........

                A borrow and binge republican's head explodes when its pointed out that the high tax era was our longest sustained growth. oooops there goes another one

                by maybeeso in michigan on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:09:33 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  As I said (none)
                  I think we're getting to the common ground here. As I said, TD will be an important process.  It is a useful form of recycling. All I am saying is that it has no prayer of, for example, eliminating our dependence on foreign oil (or even of reducing it since all of its inputs depend on other energy inputs). If you go back and read my first comment, you will see that I suggested solar power for TD plants.

                  Really I am not running down TD! It simply isn't going to be a source of energy.

                  What it will be is a source of oil that will become economical when crude oil prices rise to a certain level. It is also going to be one of the sources we will have to turn to for plastics, lubricants, and pharmaceuticals when conventional oil gets too expensive. Yes, it squeezes more efficiency out of present energy use, but it gains nothing. All of the energy you get from TD is energy that was originally put in from some other source.  (Crude oil is the same, it just seems like magic because nature put the energy in there over millions of years, we didn't have to. With TD, the waste is all produced by energy we had to put in.)

                  So at this point, I think we are violently agreeing. TD is important and useful, but it won't solve our energy problem. No one technology will. Our only way out is to substantially diversify our energy sources and to shift as much as possible from extraction sources to sustainable sources.
                   

                  [-7.13, -8.41 http://www.politicalcompass.org/]

                  by evilpenguin on Sat Nov 12, 2005 at 06:56:00 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  If I may reply twice... (none)
                  Please do not take my discussion as an attempt to shoot you down, put down TD, or lessen your, or anyone else's interest in it.

                  I'm just trying to point out a thermodynamic fact. All along I have maintained it is a good thing. I'll drop this here. I'm just wondering if you see what I am aiming at?

                  Thanks for a good discussion.

                  [-7.13, -8.41 http://www.politicalcompass.org/]

                  by evilpenguin on Sat Nov 12, 2005 at 07:11:52 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  My only quibble here is that the waste is extra (none)
                    after we have the product that the energy was expended to produce, and it is in that sense that I'm considering the waste a freebie.  We didn't use the energy to grow turkey innards , but to grow the carcass that we roast for Thanksgiving.

                    I think we're in agreement here except on that level.

                    There was a science fiction story about 25-30 years ago about a future that was hydrocarbon poor and mining was a going concern almost like  goldrush in old landfills.  They were so grateful that their ancestors had the sense to put plastics and stuff in common areas so they could have them.  I can't remember the writer or where I read it, but it really stuck.  If anyone recognizes the story, I'd love to know.

                    In the name of fighting terror, we have terrorized, and in the name of defending our values, we have betrayed them. Leonard Pitts

                    by maybeeso in michigan on Sat Nov 12, 2005 at 05:10:01 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks Nelle (none)
              I think this could devolve into an endless round and round.

              TD is coming---not as a save-all but as one part of cleaning up our battered planet and using the energy around us instead of burning up precious hydrocarbons.

              A borrow and binge republican's head explodes when its pointed out that the high tax era was our longest sustained growth. oooops there goes another one

              by maybeeso in michigan on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:13:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Title got me excited (none)
      I thought this was going to be something like Asimov's The Gods Themselves. Endless "free" energy until we collapse the universe.

      The dubya stands for freedom.

      by paraphrase on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 01:56:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We seem to be on the road to using oil (none)
        until we ruin the world.

        I've loved The Gods Themselves since it first came out.  Haunting.

        In the name of fighting terror, we have terrorized, and in the name of defending our values, we have betrayed them. Leonard Pitts

        by maybeeso in michigan on Sun Nov 13, 2005 at 04:48:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you especially for (4.00)
    acknowledging the potential environmental drawbacks to these schemes. We in the Pacific Northwest need to look into them, but it will be with a clear eye.
    •  I second that (none)
      No energy resource is without environmental impact.  

      The ones with the biggest footprint or the most cradle-to-grave emissions tend to be of the greatest risk.

      •  Don't think cradle to grave; (none)
        •  Agree (4.00)
          It's really important to consider the consequences of anything we make or use.

          We're leaving a legacy of plastics, concentrated toxic heavy metals, and manmade organic molecules that will be around for millions, if not billions of years.  Some of this legacy (very little, since the scale is still so small) comes from renewables technology.  Most of it comes from industrial garbage and household trash and winds up in landfills.  Some solar panels have to be disposed of in toxic waste dumps, as do other types of semi-conductors.

          Maybe technologies ought to be required to show how the materials they use can and will be recycled.  

          •  EU is working on this (4.00)
            See the RoHS movement in the electronics industry and the recycling plans for cars.  This is the way to approach the problem, design in the proper recycling of a product when it is built.  Then the recycling process is much easier and effective.

            Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) is being implemented now in the electronics industry to prepare for the July 2006 implementation in the EU.  The US is once again behind the ball, we will not be able to export to the EU unless our products meet those standards.  One more area where the hapless Repugs have ill-served our country.

            Underwater turbines look like an attractive option to me, there is a lot more energy density in water over air, and as Chris points out, the tides are quite predictable to real scientists, although probably a mystery to the ID idiots.

          •  I am in love with McDonough's (4.00)
            idea of eliminating the very notion of waste and modeling all on nature: everything becomes part of a nutrient stream. There is no waste.
    •  Slice and dice fish? (none)
      I forgot to mention that many people were concerned that the turbines would hit fish. But they only spin at about 20rpm. That's far slower than wind turbines, so fish can easily avoid them.

      "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

      by Chris Kulczycki on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 05:28:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Deep turbines most promising. (none)
        You are making me think!! I knew this place had a purpose.
      •  Perhaps the (non-spinning) parts of the infra- (none)
        structure will even promote sealife along the lines of providing habitat/a site for anchorage for tidal organisms or those that live in shallow waters similar to the artificial reefs created here and there by the sinking of obsolete ships (and that type to thing).

        Or maybe it will just be a royal pain in the ass having to go periodically scrape off all the barnacles . . .

        •  Squid in sound study equipment (none)
          in the Pacific.

          A few years back there was a physics of sound study from Auckland University where they built tripods and suspended equipment on a totally empty bottom area near New Zealand.   Later, when they started getting erratic results, they went back and found a thriving colony(?) of squid happily using the structures for whatever it was they did.

          By the way----TD can't supply all our energy.  Nor can wind or solar or wave or tide or any one thing.

          A borrow and binge republican's head explodes when its pointed out that the high tax era was our longest sustained growth. oooops there goes another one

          by maybeeso in michigan on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 12:34:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Two others from the moon (4.00)
    Two more types of energy, albeit longer term, are available from the moon as well. First, solar panels can be installed on the moon and the power beamed back to earth as microwaves. This would have the advantage of not being obstructed by atmosphere. Twenty square miles on the moon should provide us with all the power we need. Even longer term, the moon is a major source of Helium 3, which could be used in nuclear fusion. 20 tons a year would be enough to power the entire US. It could be mined on the moon and returneed to earth, or like the solar panels, the power could be generated on the moon and beamed back to earth.

    They would also have the added advantage of jump starting our moribund space program to do somethiing useful.

    Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

    by corwin on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 05:38:58 AM PST

    •  What antenna will be used? (none)
      Tell me more about the amazingly accurate and tightly focused antenna that would be used to beam microwave energy from the moon.  

      Just imagine the same Bush cronies doing this project who can't hit a test missile even when it has a homing beacon on it!  The antenna would wander a bit and fry anyone who was near the receiving station, plus the Bushite scum would probably hijack the beam and use it as a massive Ray-gun to annihalate the world!  Hey, didn't we have a president Ray-gun who started all this star-wars boondoggle?

      This is total non-starter, Bush is yakking about the moon and mars so that he can reward his cronies while ending realistic exploration of space with robots.  

      •  Non-problem (4.00)

        The antenna would wander a bit and fry anyone who was near the receiving station

        Not a problem, actually. Please feel free to have a read for yourself.

        I'll abstract one paragraph:

        What if the beam wanders off from the rectenna? The beam can't wander off target with a significant intensity because it needs constant feedback from the rectenna for focusing. (A phased-array system is necessary for successful focusing onto the rectenna at such distances.) If it wanders off, then it immediately defocusses and disperses to a tiny fraction of its operating intensity. It also can't be used as a weapon for this reason. Even if it were re-engineered to point anywhere with the same focussing, the transmitters would be designed to operate at a relatively benign frequency (e.g., 2.45 GHz) which would not pose a credible threat to anyone. Again, the only thing that will significantly absorb the 2.45 GHz frequency beam is a receiving antenna designed for it.

        Bush is yakking about the moon and mars so that he can reward his cronies

        There aren't any good words to say about the Bush space plan -- more technical incoherence and corporate welfare for the aerospace majors -- but don't rule out space-based resources on those grounds.

        Orbital solar power in particular holds tremendous promise in terms of being able to deliver a substantial amount of nonpolluting energy. (I agree with dmsilev downthread that it makes the most sense to collect solar power in orbit rather than on the Moon.)

        Although there have been design studies for solar power satellites going back to the 1970s, none of which have found any major infeasibilities, you won't have heard Bush say boo on the subject.

        A few reasons can be hypothesized. For one, Bush is as illiterate regarding technology as he is about every other subject of importance. For another, even if he were up on the topic, he is intertwined to an almost ludicrous extent with the barons of the fossil fuel economy. You won't have talk about alternatives to the same until they have squeezed out a few more decades worth of windfall profits from the last of the oil. (At which time it may be too late to develop and deploy effective alternatives.)

    •  A couple of caveats with that (4.00)
      Firstly, if you're going to be building solar panels in space and beaming power back, it makes much more sense to do so in Earth orbit, not on the moon. Powersats in geosynchronous orbit are a factor of ten closer to Earth, and are sunlit almost continuously (vs. 50% duty cycle on the Moon). 20 sq miles would be too small, though. An array that size gets (if my calculations are correct) about 70 GW of incident energy. Unfortunately, between the 50% duty cycle and conversion efficiency, that's probably only about 15-20 GW at the transmitter, and maybe 5-10 GW recieved. That's a lot of power, but you'd probably need 10 times as much to make up a significant fraction of our electric use.

      As for Helium-3, you have to realize that "major source" means "slightly less rare than anywhere else". If the theories of solar-wind-accumulated 3He hold up, you are still talking about extracting trace amounts of the stuff from vast quantities of regoltih, and then shipping it back.

      For new power sources in the 50-year timeframe, I'd be looking at three sources: Advanced fission reactors, solar power from geosynch satellites, and deuterium-based fusion.

      -dms

      •  There are a couple of things in favor of the moon (none)
        I agree that strictly from a power generation POV, geosynchronous orbit is better, but there are other factors to consider as well. The moon has gravity which would be better long term for the construction and maintenance crews. Zero gravity is not particularly good for the human body. One sixth g, while the effects are not known for sure, will probably be better.

        The moon has huge natural resources available. At the very least regolith can be constructed in a framework to support the solar panels. It may also be possible to use regolith itself for the construction of the panels, greatly reducing the cost to build them and also reducing the infrastructure needed. In order to build them in orbit, we would need to build almost everything here on earth and launch into orbit.

        Radiation is also a concern. On the moon, the crew can build living quarters well underground. This would let them escape the worst effects of radiation. Geosynchronous orbit would expose both the astronauts and power systems to high levels of radiation.

        Given that the earth rotates, most place on earth see the moon once per day. Geosynchronous orbit would require the construction of numerous power systems around earth, all within a few hundred miles of the equator. This would again increase construction and maintenance costs. On the moon, they could be concentrated in perhaps three or four locations to ensure maximum exposure to the sun and reliable energy transmission to earth.

        As far as the 20 square miles goes, I think I may have misremembered the figure. It may have been 20 miles square, or 400 square miles which is more in line with your estimate.

         

        Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

        by corwin on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:17:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I still prefer geosynch (none)
          You make some good arguments; let me attempt to rebut them.

          The first argument in favor of geosynch is three words: Inverse Square Law. The moon is roughly 10x farther away than a geosynch orbit. That means a factor of 100 decrease in beam density when it reaches us; your recieving array is going to have to be that much bigger in order to pull in the same amount of power.

          Secondly, the advantage of geosynch is that the power satellites are, from the viewpoint of the ground, stationary. That means that you can tie individual recievers to specific powersats, rather than having to hand the beam off from one reciever to the next over the course of a day. What happens when the Pacific Ocean is the part of the planet facing the moon? Do you lose the power feed for a few hours, or do you run massive (and inefficient) power lines from some Polynesian island to Japan or Australia or whereever? And, there's no particular need to build recievers at the equator; most latitudes have adequate sightlines to equatorial geosynch. Geosynch allows you to deliver power where it's needed; anything else forces you to spread the power out all across the globe and then deal with the transmission losses as you move the juice around on the ground.

          Thirdly, you rightly point out that the moon is more hospitable to humans than zero-g. But who says that the satellites (or lunar station) have to be manned? I would envision automated systems, with robots doing simple routine maintenance (a concept being developed now by NASA for maintenance on future space telescopes and the like), and the occasional visit by human repair crews.

          Construction is an issue, especially on the scale necessary to make any sort of dent in our power needs, but unless you are planning on setting up a large industrial plant on the moon, just about everything will have to come from Earth anyway, so launch costs are going to be comparable between the two.

          -dms

          •  One other thing (none)
            On the Moon, just like on the surface of the Earth, solar panels see the Sun 50% of the time. In a geosynch orbit, if I've done the math correctly, panels see the Sun roughly 98% of the time, with Earth eclipsing the Sun the remaining 2% of the time. Even ignoring inverse-square issues, that means that any given size array will generate twice as much power in orbit than on the Moon.

            -dms

            •  What about the lunar poles? (none)
              There must be some lunar terrain at the poles which gets much more illumination than 50%. Find a mountain or plateau at one of the poles and I bet you could get above 90%.

              I am become Dubya, Destroyer of Words...

              by Swampfoot on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 12:18:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  any optical experts around? (none)
            The first argument in favor of geosynch is three words: Inverse Square Law. The moon is roughly 10x farther away than a geosynch orbit. That means a factor of 100 decrease in beam density when it reaches us; your recieving array is going to have to be that much bigger in order to pull in the same amount of power.

            Wouldn't the act of focusing the microwave beam at the ground-based antennae negate that fact?    It's not going to spread out and diffuse with distance, as the sun's unfocused rays would.

            •  It's not that simple (none)
              You do certainly focus the beam, but the inverse square law still bites you, by raising the bar of what "good focusing" means.

              Let's say, for example, that you build a reciever array 1 kilometer in diameter. Now, look at the focusing requirements so that the entire beam hits the reciever. For a geosynch emitter, distance is 33,000 km, so the angular size of the beam has to be about 0.001 degrees. Now move the emitter to the moon. It's about 10x farther, so to hit the same size target, the angular size of the beam has to be 10x better, 0.0001 degrees, much more difficult to do.

              Alternatively, say that your transmitters are good enough to achieve a 0.001 degree focus. The geosynch emitter can send all of its power to a 1 km diamter array, but the lunar emitter will need a 10 km diameter reciever, with 100 times the collecting area.

              This can be seen in the real world with a focused light beam like a flashlight. Shine it on something nearby, it makes a small spot of light. Shine it on a wall 50 feet away, and it's a big diffuse blob. Laser pointers have a tighter focus than flashlights, but aim a pointer at a target a few hundred feet away and you won't get a crisp little dot.

              -dms

        •  Simpler, cheaper, faster (none)

          The moon has gravity which would be better long term for the construction and maintenance crews. Zero gravity is not particularly good for the human body. ... Radiation is also a concern. On the moon, the crew can build living quarters well underground. This would let them escape the worst effects of radiation.

          Given that a solar power satellite would consist mostly of large arrays of small repetitive modules, a pretty simple layout, it may well make sense to simply build and maintain SPS with robots.

          Robots don't mind zero gee. They are easy enough to harden against radiation. No need to provide oxygen, nor to scrub carbon dioxide afterward. No one will freak out emotionally, start crying, and stop the program cold for years, if a robot gets terminally crunched between two girders.

          And robots don't need to have incredibly weighty water lifted up the gravity well to keep them going. Run the math sometime on how much it costs NASA to put one (1) standard-issue bottle of mineral water in the hands of a crewmember aboard the ISS. It'll blow your mind. Hint: you could buy a pretty spiffy car for the price.

          Yes, there are construction resources on the Moon which could be valuable for SPS deployment. But learning how to do things like refine regolith into useable structural material is going to take a while. NASA is still figuring out how to efficiently make good old dumb heavy concrete from lunar materials, and they've had the raw material to experiment with in the lab for thirty years now!

          We need clean orbital solar power in the short term, if only to show the concept works. Let's use purely terrestrial materials for now, and launch it on something like the Truax Sea Dragon  (really big, really dumb, really cheap booster).

      •  Also the environmental risks (none)
        at the receiving site are immense. Having a pillar of massive microwave radiation is hardly environmentally friendly. I know I wouldn't relish the idea of being anywhere near an open air column of microwaves that would be more massive than having thousands of microwave ovens on full power with no doors on them.

        cheers,

        Mitch Gore

        Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

        by Lestatdelc on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:47:21 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Microwave power densities (none)
          Actually, the sort of power density typically talked about for such systems is pretty low, certainly much much lower than what an oven puts out.

          A microwave oven draws several hundred watts, maybe a kilowatt or so, on a footprint of about one square foot. At that power density, a 10 GW power beam would be 10 million square feet, or about 1/3 of a square mile. Actual designs envision tens or hundreds of square miles of reciever array. Also, because the recievers are essentially a metal mesh, and not something solid like a dish antenna, you could do things like put reciever arrays over farmland.

          I'd worry more about the environmental impact involved in manufacturing umpteen square miles worth of photovoltaic cells; some of the chemicals involved are very nasty.

          -dms

    •  Tee hee! (4.00)
      As soon as I saw "moon" and "energy" in the same sentence, I knew someone would mention the He-3 fusion idea. It's one of my favorite totally-legitimate-yet-utterly-crackpot energy ideas, and there are a LOT of them.

      It's really quite admirable (to say nothing of cool) that researchers are coming up with ideas like using Moon-mined helium to power next-generation fusion reactors and delivering the power via that microwave transmission beam they're going to figure out one of these days. And yet we've got sober-minded folks back here on earth ready to dust off 1930s coal-to-oil technology, too. This diary is about tides, the next one will be wind farms, then geothermal, then biofuel, then natural gas, then hydrogen, then solar towers, then carbon-nanotube fiber static electricity generators hung from geostationary satellites. It's fun to mentally try on the technology and get a rush from the thought of all those too-cheap-to-meter megawatts.

      The only problem is that even assuming all of these technologies can be exploited to their full potential, the logistical and capital challenges of getting them to that place are on the same scale as fighting WWII--in perpetuity. The biggest obstacle to getting cleaner and more abundant energy isn't technological, it's managerial. Tidal turbines are great, and so are giant offshore windmills, etc., but what I'd really kill for is a comprehensive 50-year-plan that transitions us from where we are now to where we want to be in a realistic fashion. As things stand now, the plans tend to look like this:

      Phase 1: the present day.
      Phase 2: (unclear)
      Phase 3: Hydrogen-powered flying cars!

      •  Sorry, call me a pie in the sky dreamer (none)
        That would be moon pie, of course. Actually, my favored approach would be to delink as many people from the grid as possible. Home solar panels and fuel cells are just now becoming affordable, on the order of about $10,000 per home. Wind power would be very useful in certain parts of the country. I can even support nuclear fission in some cases, since the technology has improved over the last thirty years. Ultimately, however, we must accept the fact that the only inexhaustable source of power we have is the sun. That leaves solar and wind power as the best long term solutions. Whether they are on earth or the moon or in orbit, solar panels will not run out of fuel until the sun goes red giant on us.

        All the other stuff is just fun speculation.

        Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

        by corwin on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:37:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Great... (none)
        energy policy run by the Underpants Gnomes...

        1. Collect underpants
        2.  ???
        3. Profit!

        Sorry, I'm just in a cartoony mood today.  :)

        ~~~~
        Blogesque
        Economic Left: -6.25 Social Libertarian: -5.03

        by OhioLen on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:42:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nova Scotia! (4.00)
    Dont forget there is a tidal power plant in Anapolis Royal in Nova Scotia.  If you're ever there on vacation, they have free tours and a small museum.

    Unfortunately, I'm not that optimistic on tidal power in general.  There are very few places in the world with large enough tides to make tidal power realistic.  The Bay of Fundy has the largest tides in the world, but even there it is unlikely to be the major power source.  But every little bit helps.

    •  5 or 6 knots is what the new turbines are (none)
      optimized for. So you really don't need super strong currents or huge tidal ranges as with barrages.

      "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

      by Chris Kulczycki on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 05:55:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm in NS as well (none)
      I was just going to mention the Fundy as a potential source of power. There is currently a project underway that hopes to be generating electricty in 5 or 6 years near Truro.
      •  Fundy also shows what can go wrong (none)
        In 1968 the province of New Brunswick built the Petitcodiac Causeway upriver from Moncton.  In effect this was similar to what a barrage setup would do in that it acted as a dam.

        The end result was a disaster.  The tide, flowing upriver, was stopped dead and could only squeeze though the narrow openings.  The resulting ponding of water allowed sediment, normally held in suspension by the sloshing of water back and forth, to settle.  At Moncton the river, which averaged a kilometre wide, is now down to less than 100 metres and the tidal bore, once world famous and up to two metres high, is a few centimetres at best.

        A tidal dam would have had the same effect.

    •  Tidal power and whales (4.00)
      The NS Power website has this summary of the tidal power plant: Annapolis Tidal Power Station.

      A couple of summers ago the station was disrupted when a young whale swam up through the gates on the incoming tide. It stayed in French Basin, above the causeway, for a couple of months, dining on astonished Annapolis River fish and cavorting for the crowds that lined the shore. It was sort of an interesting way to knock a power plant offline.

  •  Good diary (none)
    Just reading your title, I thought your diary might be about Helium-3.

    But the subject of your diary is much more plausible and not nearly as potentially dangerous as helium-3. Using the sun, wind and waves and any other naturally occuring resources is the way to go IMHO. Especially in cases where it doesn't harm the surrounding environment.

  •  Falling leaf energy! (4.00)
    Seriously, how many leaves fall out of trees in this country. Trees all over the country expend tons of energy growing leaves on high branches. All we need to do is set up little turbines with leaf collector arms in forests. Okay, it's not perfect, but it just shows that energy is everywhere, and in the 21st century energy costs should be plummetting instead of soaring.

    Great research on tidal energy.

    I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game... -Howard Zinn

    by Jawis on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 05:53:03 AM PST

    •  Leaves: the greatest transfer of energy (none)
      The fall of leaves each year is the greatest transfer of energy in the world.  But I would hesitate to suggest "harvesting" this energy source when it is already being naturally utilized to build our soils and feed the organisms that lead to our food.

      Imagine the Bushite scum building huge leaf burning plants to go along with their "healthy forests" and "clear skies" initiatives.  They would pillage the national forests and pollute the air to line the pockets of their cronies.

      The first step to any realistic energy policy in the US is simple:  Impeach Cheney. Step two:  Impeach Bush.

      •  I agree, (none)
        but my plan would still allow the leaves to decompose as usual. They would fall through the turbine and to the ground; kind of like a water wheel, but with leaves. You would just have a bunch of these near useless turbines cluttering up your forrests, and transmission cables buried everywhere. It's an almost perfect plan.

        I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game... -Howard Zinn

        by Jawis on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:42:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Like your sig line and Howard Zinn (none)
          This was a LOL comment, thanks for brightening my day:

          "You would just have a bunch of these near useless turbines cluttering up your forests, and transmission cables buried everywhere. It's an almost perfect plan."

          Howard Zinn is great, did you watch his biographical DVD?  Title was something about a moving train.

          I give his book, "The People's History of the US" to all of my nieces and nephews when they are in high school.

          •  Howard Zinn (none)
            Unfortunately, I have not seen his biographical DVD. I'm not very familiar with his work. I've only read an excerpt from The People's History of the US back in college, and the Salon article I quote in my sig. I really like what I've read and heard about him, and I've meant to pick up The People's History of the US for awhile, but haven't gotten around to it.

            I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game... -Howard Zinn

            by Jawis on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 09:49:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Howard Zinn- see the DVD, read the books! (none)
              You are certainly a prime candidate to learn more about Howard Zinn, he is someone who has lived and fought for what he believes in.  The companion book to "People's History of the US" is also good, he gives many quotes from real americans, not just the rich cronies who often write the "official" history books.

              The DVD is:
              Howard Zinn - You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004)

        •  Hot air (none)
          In the same vein, all corrupt politicians and talking heads should be required to wear little turbines to get something useful out of all the hot air they are spouting.

          Oh, and how about a device in your cell phone that harvests your breath when you speak?

          Oh, and eating more garlic and peppers to give the breath energy more oomph ...  Truly, the possibilities are endless.  ;)

    •  Making the Tree Your Bitch (none)
      Billions of little turbines connected to leaf catching platforms on levers!  Then, we can collect the leaves and burn them, providing the energy needed to raise the little levers back into position for the next leaf!

      This technology would provide an added incentive to plant more trees, making the hippies happy.

      No one steal the title above, I'm using that for my upcoming book.

      •  What about genetically modifying... (none)
        trees, so their leaves had thousands of tiny nano-turbines - and the stem of each leaf contained a microwave transmitter?

        As they fell, the turbines would spin, and the transmitter would send the power to a central location (the trunk?  ...sorry...) for collection...

        JF

        Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

        by Jaime Frontero on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:22:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Genetically modified leaf solar panels? (none)
          Or, we could wire up every tree to a huge battery, hoping to collect lightning strikes.
          •  Great Idea! (none)
            Wouldn't it be awesome if instead of leaves trees had some sort of devices that would collect energy from the sun and turn it into chemical energy that could be used some how. Man, if we only had something like that.

            I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game... -Howard Zinn

            by Jawis on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 09:06:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Like creating oxygen? (none)
              You've got it, maybe the trees could take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen?  Oh, sorry, President Ray-gun told me that "trees pollute", and since I believe all REpub lies, I have cut down all the little polluters around my house- no more leaves for me!!

              Nothing like a little ID education to straighten out the world, and it's all faith-based, no wonder the idiot Bush supports it.

            •  oh sure... (none)
              you libruls always think we can create energy resources out of sunshine and hot air.  typical.

              while you're fantasizing about these magical trees that create chemicals out of light, why don't you go ahead and have them drip sweet sugar syrup while you're at it?  something that tastes good on waffles, preferably.  you know, up there in vermont.

              </irony-impaired wingnut>

              we'd better decide now if we are going to be fearless men or scared boys.
              — e.d. nixon, montgomery improvement association

              by zeke L on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 10:42:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry - batteries couldn't handle... (none)
            ...the surge.  You'd have to use capacitors.

            But a great idea!

            JF

            Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

            by Jaime Frontero on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 09:12:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Energy doesn't grow on trees! (none)
  •  Passamaquoddy Bay (none)
    Tides are greatest the farther from the equator you are, and in narrow bodies of water.  About 70 years ago, there was a plan to build a tidal power plant at Passamaquoddy Bay, where the tides are among the highest in the world.

    I think it was conceived as one of the public works projects that were supposed to provide jobs during the Great Depression.  They never did it, though, because it just wasn't worth the cost.

    But the Age of Oil was just beginning then; things are different now.  

    However, I believe they're pushing to build a LNG terminal in Passamaquoddy Bay now, not a tidal power plant.  :-P

    "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." - Kenneth Boulding

    by randym77 on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 06:05:42 AM PST

  •  Sorry. Tidal energy is great, but... (4.00)
    ...it demands the kind of large-scale infrastructure investment that only the largest corporations and governments can make.

    We've already had many hundreds of years worth of experience, being used and trampled upon by these people.

    As long as we've got to find and implement new sources and ideas for energy - and we do - I would think we could apply the lessons we've learned about people and governments with power over us, during the past few centuries.

    I want energy that I control.  And it's quite feasable:  photovoltaic solar cell technology, with on-site battery storage, is affordable; and possible - right now.  Let's invest in that, and get rid of one of the most egregious areas of political abuse by the power-elite.

    You're forgetting something.  You may trust your government or its political party right now - but govenments fall, and parties last until the next election.  The infrastructures they create remain in place for centuries, to be fought over and profited from by those with diminished standards.

    Let's get it right, this time...

    JF

    Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

    by Jaime Frontero on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 06:09:32 AM PST

    •  I think turbines could be scaled down (4.00)
      to the point where even a village could buy and run them. They can be free floating. Here a couple of photos of a smaller unit.

      "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

      by Chris Kulczycki on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 06:31:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "You may trust your... (none)
        ...governmentvillage or its political party right now - but governments villages fall, and parties last until the next election."

        And here I thought that one of the driving forces in the 'modern' implementation of representative governments, was to get rid of the rampant cronyism and nepotism of the 'village elder' model of government.  Semi-snark, no offense...

        Look, tidal is cool, granted.  So is wind power, active geo-thermal, and any number of technologies for renewable energy.  But they're all local generation schemes - which is to say that they're only good in certain localities.  And just because I believe in renewable energy, doesn't mean I'm going to ignore the economy-of-scale lessons that we've learned since the advent of the assembly line.

        Solar PV works everywhere - yes, to a greater or lesser efficiency, but still everywhere - and that means it's ultimately cheaper, from a manufacturing standpoint.  And it's still the only generation scheme I'm aware of that can be scaled down to the individual user.

        JF

        Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

        by Jaime Frontero on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:00:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Local schemes (4.00)
          It's my opinion that local power is where it's at.  I think we have to build and remodel to include independently power homes.  

          Multiple energy sources need to be used.

          I don't think we'll be able to stick with one energy source just because it's streamlined.

          •  Yes, you're right about... (none)
            ...sticking "with one energy source just because it's streamlined."

            Large energy consumers, especially power-intensive corporations that manufacture stuff, need access to a wide and tunable power grid.  That's unlikely to change in the next hundred years or so.

            You're also right about this:  "I think we have to build and remodel to include independently power[ed] homes."

            That's pretty much my point.  Let the power corporations sell their power to the consumer corporations - but get us out of the loop.  Mandate two-way meters, so we can sell our excess electricity generation back to the grid (as already exists in several areas).

            I don't want these corporations to be dependent on us - I'm basically a capitalist (-2.75, -6.15) - but I'm damned sick and tired of being dependent on them.

            JF

            Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

            by Jaime Frontero on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:19:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Seattle (none)
              We've got the ability here to sell our power back.  It's still out of reach for most consumers to install the solar panels.
              •  Here in Minnesota... (none)
                ...we can sell our power back, too.

                And with "Energy Saver" subsidies, it's possible to amortize a solar PVP installation over a period of 8 - 10 years.

                By the time I buy another piece of dirt (I'm renting at the moment), probably in a couple of years, I'll do it.

                JF

                Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

                by Jaime Frontero on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:46:06 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Power is power... (4.00)
      ...however it's made. I think we need a combination of large and small-scale power generation. What, you're going to ignore a very promising source of power because you dislike the corporations that are going to have to underwrite it? Tell you what. Cut your electricity usage in half or a third just so you can keep your local sources under your control.

      Solar's cool and all, but, wait, you need large corporations to make solar panels! The equipment to make solar panels is crazily expensive and technologically complex: certainly not a local endeavor.

      •  Solar PV panels DO require... (none)
        ...large corporations for manufacturing - you're quite correct - but the point is to reduce dependence on those corporations as much as is practical.  It would be ridiculous to try and eliminate them altogether, and that's not my point.

        It's worth noting, however, that PV panels are getting cheaper all the time - economies of scale - and while their manufacture is somewhat reasearch-intensive, at the moment, their manufacturing processes aren't really all that complex.

        I just don't see anything better - for the environment, or for the individual.

        JF

        Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

        by Jaime Frontero on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:07:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I forgot... (none)
        One of the most important points about PV panel implementation is this:

        Yes, the panels are expensive - but they are a one-time purchase, and entirely subject to the competitive/supply-and-demand vagaries of the marketplace.

        Buying electricity is not competitive.  It is, in almost all cases, a government mandated monopoly:  as are all large-scale power generation endeavors.

        That's why we're screwed by the current grid - and unscrewed with solar PV...

        JF

        Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

        by Jaime Frontero on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:35:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Huh? (none)
      I have no problem with the Government making large-scale long term infrastructure investments (ala the Grand Cooley Dam, etc.) Just because a government invests in such projects doesn't make it suspect or bad.

      cheers,

      Mitch Gore

      Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

      by Lestatdelc on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:51:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I never said it did... (none)
        ...make them bad.  But it seeems to turn out that way, more often than not.

        Weilding consolodated and monopolistic power is a temptation to the less-than-perfect - governments or corporations - and the track records of either are not good.

        'Trust' is for those occasions when there is no choice.  'Trust but verify' is for those who have no choice, but do have considerable power.  The last case doesn't really pertain to the average citizen - and neither case is a good place to be in.

        My personal preference is to end my dependence on anything that I have no choice about.

        JF

        Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

        by Jaime Frontero on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:30:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Power from the Sea (4.00)
    Another interesting option is to use an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) engine to get power from the warm surface waters of the ocean.

    Here's a link to some info:
    US Department of Energy OTEC info

    Given we have a surplus of warm surface water in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Oceans this might be worth investigating.

    "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values" - Bill Clinton.

    by RAST on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 06:25:44 AM PST

  •  Ever seen the East River in NYC? (none)
    The currents are so strong they actually scare me; I'm a certified land lubber.

    However, there's a cool project going on in the East River via Verdant Power.

  •  Test project in NYC East River (none)
    I saw a segment on Discover Channel (or Science Channel) about a tidal power test project that is planned the east river.  It is going to be the underwater turbine type, I think 3-5 to start.  The power will be used by a local supermarket for lights and refridgeration.

    I think this is a part of the solution along with solar, wind, and dare I say it Nuclear.

    Andew

  •  Oooo! I'm so happy this morning! (4.00)
    I could dance.  I've never heard of tidal energy resources and damnmit, it looks feasible to me (with my limited knowledge.)  Moon energy!  Wow!
  •  I thought you meant this (none)
    http://www.asi.org/...

    Helium-3 is the perfect fuel for nuclear fusion, yielding energetic reactions with no radiation whatsoever, but is only present in so many kilograms on Earth. The Moon, however, has enough to fulfill Earth's energy requirements, and support the lunar resource extraction industry described in this chapter of the Artemis Data Book, for the next 10,000 years

    http://www.asi.org/...

  •  cleaner energy (4.00)

    A 2.2GWp tidal fence is being planned for the San Bernadino Strait in the Philippines. The project, estimated to cost $US 2.8 Billion and take 6 years to complete.

    I love it...only 2.8 billion.  Hell, the oil companies could build 50 of these with the profits from last quarter only!  When do they start building???

    Did you listen to the whiney CEO's in front of the senate last week?  "We need to make a profit or else it just wouldn't be normal for our industry."

    To hell with them, they are making all that money off of us and providing us with a fuel that is environmentally dangerous (global warming), politically unstable (middle east terrorism) and economically destructive (we're broke, they're rich).

    To hell with them deserving profits.  They owe us, not the other way around.  We don't want their stinking product.   We want something better.  Why isn't our federal government looking out for OUR interests and forcing these damn oil companies to pay for their share of the costs to society out of their profits.

    --> Just a middle age woman practicing her free speech.

    by Thea VA on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:25:46 AM PST

  •  you really are a moonbat, aren't you? (none)
    /snark

    great stuff. i think any power source we can find that does not generate greenhouse gasses and is non extraction based (and so won't run out) should be developed agressively.

    R for Reverse, D for Drive

    by leftwords on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 07:40:57 AM PST

  •  The Detroit River (none)
    I'm looking at it now (and Canada beyond) and am now seeing it as a horizontal Niagra Falls. Much of the rainfall of Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario gets squeezed through this relatively skinny river via gravity, not tides, so it runs 24/7/365. Hundreds of anchored turbines could eventually be dropped in place if a test installation proved its value.

    Umm, Kwame? Jennifer?

    •  Hundreds of turbines? (none)
      What would that do to the flow of the river?  Alluvial deposition, stagnation, the biota in the river, oxygenation...

      JF

      Invest in your future - VOTE DIEBOLD!

      by Jaime Frontero on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:16:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt any hurt (none)
        The Detroit River is 32 miles long and varies from a half mile to three miles wide so there's plenty of area outside the shipping channels and below the depth of pleasure craft to work with. If our industrial activity hasn't done the river in, I don't think some turbines are going to hurt. Of course it would have to be an international effort.
  •  More great energy info - thank you. (none)
    ...you also might want to check out this recent diary by phasmatis.

    Well-done first diary on nanomaterials and energy and stuff like that.

  •  Omigod. Don't you realize the danger? (4.00)
    All systems contain energy. What you are talking about is increasing the rate of entropy by pulling energy out of the system and using it to do foolish things like power cars and heat homes. All this energy winds up as low grade heat energy and is lost to the system. And where does the energy come from? From the earth's rotation and the moon's orbit. You're talking about slowing the earth's rotation! But then I always need about one hour per day more than I have, so maybe that won't be too bad.

    The children of the poor perish in their beds, while the blastocysts of the wealthy are preserved for all eternity

    by CarbonFiberBoy on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:13:41 AM PST

    •  FYI (none)
      did you know that humans have already altered the rotation of the earth?  Yep, its true.  By building so many dams, thereby impounding huge amts of water (which weighs ~8lbs/gal)behind them, we have redistributed enough of the earth's weight to affect its rotation.  Pretty wild to consider
      •  Earth's rotation not slowing as fast (none)
        Yes, the amount of water held in the upper Northern and lower Southern hemispheres has shifted  weight away from the equator and helped the earth maintain its rate of rotation about the poles.  Astronomers had calculated the rate of deceleration and found that it wasn't slowing as quickly as it should have.
        They then figured out why- like a spinning figure skater pulling in their arms toward their axis, the weight of the water was the variable which altered the original estimate.
  •  fusion (none)
    Scientists think that the moon may be mined for helium 3 in the future as a fuel for fusion reactors.  Another idea is to put solar cells on the moon and beam the energy to earth.  I think it would use some sort of microwave beam or laser or something.  Not that either of these ideas is all that feasible in the near future but since the topic is energy from the moon I think it's kind of interesting to think about.
  •  OT, but so cool, innovative, do-able (4.00)
    Have you heard of architect Nader Khalili and his California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture?  He has developed a system of construction based on traditional earth buildings in his native Iran.  These amazing structures withstand natural disasters, and take advantage of the "thermal flywheel effect", a 12 hour delay in the energy transfer from the exterior to the interior of the building--they're coolest at the hottest part of the day and warmest at the coolest part of the day.  Because they are constructed of earth, polyethyline bags and barbed wire they are inexpensive to build (but labor intensive).  They can be very beautiful, too.

    Check it out:
    http://www.calearth.org/

    Mother Earth magazine had a great article on earthbag construction, too, Oct/Nov 2005, here's their site, unfortunately I don't think you can pull up the article there without a subscription, but there are so many great alternative energy articles and resources there...

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/

    Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors. Mister Rogers

    by station wagon on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 08:35:32 AM PST

    •  elaboration in order-- (none)
      Khalil's technique uses polypropylene (correction, sorry) earth filled bags stacked or stairstepped--check the link, beautiful!--with barbed wire in between the bags, resulting in great tensile strength which makes the structures very sturdy and able to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters.  Khalil is widely respected for his work, has written many books, and has been widely recognized, including by the U.N., for his work to provide designs for emergency shelters and housing alternatives for poor people.  One aspect of the practicality of his method is the option for using arched or domed elements, reducing the need for wood products. How cool is that?  

      What does this have to do with the moon you may ask:  Khalil worked with NASA to design moon homes for the lunar landscape!!!!Check out the link from my comment directly above...

      Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors. Mister Rogers

      by station wagon on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:15:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  dizzying! (none)
    ooh, my head, she is spinning!  no, wait, it's the room, no, i'ts the earth's rotation...
    thanks for diarrheaing this.  what a cheery, hopeful thought to start my holiday!  i love to read about alternative energy technologies, being a master gardener and a master composter and all--you know, "compost happens"--but esp love to think about small towns opting out of big grids and taking back their "public" utilities with innovation and diverse systems.

    poem of the day

      who knows if the moon's
    a balloon,coming out of a keen city
    in the sky--filled with pretty people?
    (and if you and i should

    get into it,if they
    should take me and take you into their balloon,
    why then
    we'd go up higher with all the pretty people

    than houses and steeples and clouds:
    go sailing
    away and away sailing into a keen
    city which nobody's ever visited,where

    always
    it's
    Spring)and everyone's
    in love and flowers pick themselves

    ee cummings

  •  sterling engines anyone?? (none)

    O world,no world,but mass of public wrongs,confused and filled with murder and misdeeds

    by Brian B on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 10:40:09 AM PST

  •  Great diary. (none)
    I used to live in New Brunswick, Canada, which borders on the Bay of Fundy, with the highest tides anywhere in the world.  Does anyone know if that region (N.B., Nova Scotia) has tried to exploit the energy potential there?

    The reason that I ask is that this is the most economically depressed region in Canada, where there is a substantial brain drain to more affluent (and populated) regions, and where a great many fishing and shipbuilding jobs have been lost to the globalized economy.

    Wouldn't this be a great possibility for economic development in the region (environmental impact notwithstanding)?

    Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

    by Dale on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 10:43:07 AM PST

  •  Nano metal (none)
    Interesting article in New Scientist (10/22/05) talks about burning nano metal shavings that can be recharged to burn (oxidize) over and over again, release nearly no pollutants, and use cheap metals like iron.
    Chunks of metal such as iron, aluminium or boron are the thing... Turn them into powder with grains just nanometres across and the stuff becomes highly reactive. Ignite it, and it releases copious quantities of energy. With a modified engine and a tankful of metal, [Dave] Beach [of Oak Ridge] calculates that an average saloon car could travel three times as far as the equivalent petrol-powered vehicle. Better still, because of the way that this metal nano-fuel burns, it is almost completely non-polluting. That means no carbon dioxide, no dust, no soot and no nitrogen oxides. What's more, this fuel is fully rechargeable: treat your spent nanoparticles with a little hydrogen and the stuff can be burnt again and again. It could spell the start of a new iron age, and not just for cars. All kinds of engines, from domestic heating units to the turbines in power stations, could be adapted to burn metal.

    "The survival value of intelligence is that it allows us to extinct a bad idea, before the idea extincts us." -- Karl Popper

    by eyeswideopen on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 10:55:44 AM PST

  •  Fascinating (4.00)
    Thanks for the diary on this.  Sounds like one of many potential excellent alternative and renewable energy projects to fund if we really were going to redirect some of the oil companies' windfall profits, rather than subsidize further conusmption as suggested at the absurd political grandstanding session recently carried out in DC.
  •  Looks like an alternative to be explored (none)
    It is almost certain that these power plants would have some kind of unfortunate ecological impact.  The dam on the estuary reminds me of river dams.  We are only beginning to understand the scale of destruction caused by river dams.   The turbines look like they could injure sea creatures, and affect ocean currents, at least locally, which could affect the habitat.  Could it even affect the weather, if we got enough of them?   A lot to think about.
    •  They actually spin slowly, (none)
      at about 20 rpm, so sea creatures probably won't be harmed. But if they slow currents, sedimentation could be a result.

      "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

      by Chris Kulczycki on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:12:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Deep Tidal Power Stations (none)
    I live in Hawaii, which needs an independent source of power (we run pretty much exclusively on fossil fuels since we're on an independent grid due to our location).  We have the highest ratio of coast to land mass, which makes us the ideal candidate for tidal power.  The trouble is our immediate off shore areas are used by the tourist/recreation industries for fishing, scuba diving, surfing, sailing, and other pursuits.  
    What is the maximum depth that these power stations can be used at?  
    How far off shore can they be set?  
    How much noise do they make (we have a strong US Naval presence here that might object to them for one reason or another)?
  •  Great Piece (none)
    Interesting and informative, and I wish we spent more money exploring these sorts of issues.  The energy bill was a missed opportunity.
  •  all well and good (none)
    but what replaces gasoline for transportation?
    Agriculture and transportation are the two areas where no feasible new source exists, as far as I know.
    •  Don't replace; reduce significantly (none)
      With a mix of different options and renewed initiatives: walking, bicycles and biking infrastructure, carpooling, urban mass transit, hybrid or full electric vehicles, fiscal incentives and disincentives related to gas consumption over certain limits and the fuel efficiency of vehicles (e.g., Hummer drivers can pay a lot more for their gas).  We must reduce the gluttonous consumption of and dependence on petroleum that's being paid for in blood.  It is truly an issue of national security.
  •  When I was in Bosnia I saw the most ingenious (4.00)
    method of power generation I have ever heard of and it is very similar to this.  During the war, power was problematic.  People who lived by streams came up with a solution - build a small floating raft, mount a turbine on it and run a power line to the house from it.  This way, individual houses were able to keep the lights on and charge car batteries to run small appliances even thought the infrastructure had been totally destroyed.  Somehow, I doubt the average American's ability to be that resourceful.

    Republicans - For Saddam until they were against him.

    by calipygian on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:28:58 AM PST

  •  What about tapping into the (none)
    deep sea water conveyers that keep the Northern Hemispheres weather temperate?

    There are underwater rivers of current in the North Atlantic which are in constant motion... any ideas or projects exploring tapping those for electricity generation?

    cheers,

    Mitch Gore

    Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

    by Lestatdelc on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 11:56:15 AM PST

    •  you are talking about huge engineering projects. (none)
      These gyres are surface currents, such as the North Atlantic Current. There are "surface" in the sense tht they are not deep "bathyal" water masses. they are less dense than cold water and transfer the heat of the equatorial region to northern climes.

      The deep currents you are thinking of are cold water masses generated by the arctic and Antartic ice sheets. As water freezes, Salt content increases and the colder water becomes denser and sinks travelling towards the equator.

      This water has been dated at 5-10,000 years old based on C14 isotopes, in some places, It is not moving that quickly.

      The top of the water column moves faster. around the globe.  But again if you slow any large water mass you will alter the erosion and deposition patterns locally

  •  The Only Long Term Solution (4.00)
    is to use less energy. A lot less.

    It doesn't matter how "clean" the source is. Humans now use enough energy to affect the environment in ways that we can not afford.

    Just picture what we would do with free, unlimited energy.

    Somehow we all got by with a little wood or dung burning until a few hundred years ago.

    This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

    by Mr X on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 01:02:14 PM PST

  •  There is a danger in utilising the tidal energy (none)
    to generate power. It alters the energy flow through channels and harbours where the genrators are installed, this may have serious consequences for fish hatcheries and water quality where tides may flush out sediment laden water. decreasing the energy  of tides will increase siltation.

    Before heralding tidal power as the fix for energy junkies, conservation, efficiency and better housing design need to be considered as higher priority.

  •  One Detail about Tides (none)
    The moon is responsible for 56% of tidal energy. The sun is responsible for 44%.

    Tidal energy is wondeful but has 2 large problems:
    1) the value is only as great as the tide. There are not a lot of places where tidal energy is cost effective. This has to do with the topography of the coast.

    2) deploying equipment in places which have tides amounts to putting it into adverse conditions. Not the sort of stuff conducive to long life.

    Where is can be done cost-effectively, it should.

  •  A cool idea...and something I've never (none)
    heard anything about...but...being the tree/animal lover that I am, my first questions is, of course, how does this effect those adorable little sea creatures?!
  •  I am sorry I came to this discussion so late (none)
    and don't have time for a complete comment with links.

    I know that some oil companies have looked into this int he past.  Chevron looked into it for the Bay Area (If anyone has ever been on a sail boat going the "wring way" under the GG bridge, they know how powerful those tides are) but at the time the real problem was the maintenance of the turbines.  Salt water is amazingly corrosive at the time at least, it just didn't make sense because of the Short life span.  

    Now this is not to say that these more modern turbines haven't figured this out yet, but that was the situation 15 years ago.

    Ont he other hand, I remember someone looking at using the pressure (actually a vacuum) that is created as water rushes passed an opening to generate electricity.  This was a couple of years ago but haven't heard anything recently.

    Midwest Center for American Values - Progressive ideas in an easy to swallow pill.

    by ETinKC on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 02:41:54 PM PST

  •  No birds are killed? (none)
    So I guess the innocent lives of defenseless fish don't matter to you huh Chris? You insensitivde asshole! :)

    "Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest!" -- Oakland A Rickey Henderson

    by friday durdikova on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 03:15:31 PM PST

    •  Hey, I love fish. (none)
      A little olive oil, garlic, capers,lemon juice and maybe a glass of muscadet; yummee.

      The turbines only spin at about 20rpm. That's far slower than wind turbines, so fish can easily avoid them. After all, fish should be filet, not chopped up.

      "The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets" , Christopher Morley

      by Chris Kulczycki on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 04:24:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Minor Nit (none)
    You probably meant Mw (megawatts) and not mw (milliwatts). 10e9 differential.  Otherwise a very excellent diary!

    That changes things, that knowledge... Jason Bourne

    by chautauqua on Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 04:14:11 PM PST

  •  When I saw the title (none)
    I was thinking something even crazier. Put a bunch of solar collectors all over the moon, and then use parabolic dishes to send the energy to Earth.
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