What is one of the greenest ways to generate lots of electricity? What if we could harness the immense energy in ocean currents? Tidal power has been developing rapidly as a viable means of generating electricity. Scotland is nearly surrounded by ocean and strong currents are common.
Tick tock, tick tock… The ticking sound that our friends in Germany might be hearing is the countdown to 2022, the year in which the country has pledged to be completely nuclear free.
Meanwhile, halfway across the globe, Japan is still dealing with the aftermath of the meltdown at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. The disaster greatly damaged public confidence in the safety of nuclear power, leading many countries to question their own commitment to nuclear power.
As Germany, Japan, and other countries seek to phase out nuclear power, they need to design strategies for filling the “energy gap” created by nuclear power’s absence. Renewable energy sources provide the clearest, cleanest path for filling this gap, and many different forms of renewables currently exist as viable options.
Germany-based TimberTower develops massive, easily assembled wooden towers that can be used as the base for wind turbines, much the way wood was used as the foundation for windmills for many centuries. More flexible, renewable and easier to manufacture and produce than metal turbines, the wooden towers make sense for a forest-rich region.
Clean technology company SunPods Inc.—headquartered in San Jose, Calif.—designs and manufactures modular solar array units that help make solar power more accessible and affordable. Unlike conventional customized ground-mounted solar arrays that require extensive onsite assembly and construction, SunPods (which stands for “Sun Power on Demand”) are configured and built in a factory before being delivered to virtually any site — a process that reduces installation time by up to 85 percent, allowing sunny regions to readily harvest the solar power available to them.
Tidal power presents another option for renewable energy for countries with available coastline. IT Power—based in Bristol, UK—is developing an innovative tidal energy device that uses oscillating horizontal hydrofoils instead of traditional rotating blades to generate renewable energy. This pioneering approach offers many advantages over existing tidal stream technology by maximizing the area that can be swept—and hence the power captured—in a given depth of water.
Wind, solar, tidal power, and other renewables all have a role to play in helping countries seeking to move away from nuclear achieve their energy goals. How these countries fill “the energy gap” will be a bellwether for others working to diversify their energy mix.
International cooperation in clean tech innovation and diffusion is increasingly common. One of the trends in this regard is a country’s trade officials organizing an international tour of home grown clean tech companies, in many cases to the U.S., to promote their wares and explore business opportunities.
As a country with enormous potential for both wind power and solar energy, India has been steadily working towards building up the respective technologies to establish their renewable energy reputation. One of the areas they have yet to consider, however, is tidal and wave based energies and India is about to make a change for the better in that department. With plans to
Tidal power, also called tidal energy, is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into electricity or other useful forms of power. The first large-scale tidal power plant (the Rance Tidal Power Station) started operation in 1966. Harnessing the power of ocean tides has long been imagined, but countries are only now putting it into practice. A demonstration
Scotland has approved ten marine energy projects that leaders predict could provide electricity for one-third of the nation’s homes by 2020 and make Scotland the world leader in wave energy.
The government awarded leases to companies to construct six wave energy projects and four tidal project off the Scottish coast in what experts say would be the first developments of their kind on a large commercial scale.
Construction would cost £4 billion ($6.1 billion) and require another £1 billion ($1.53 billion) in government funding to upgrade the national electric grid. But First Minister Alex Salmond said tapping into the resources of Pentland Firth, a strait north of Scotland that is known for its strong tides, can make the country the “powerhouse of Europe.”
The earth is the water planet, so it should come as no great surprise that forms of water power have been one of the world’s most popular “renewable” energy sources. Yet the largest water power source of all – the ocean that covers three-quarters of earth – has yet to be tapped in any major way for power generation. There are three primary reasons for this:
The first is the nature of the ocean itself, a powerful resource that cannot be privately owned like land that typically serves as the foundation for site control for terrestrial power plants of all kinds;
The second is funding. Hydropower was heavily subsidized during the Great Depression, but little public investment has since been steered toward marine renewables with the exception of ocean thermal technologies, which were perceived to be a failure.
The third reason why the ocean has not yet been industrialized on behalf of energy production is that the technologies, materials and construction techniques did not exist until now to harness this renewable energy resource in any meaningful and cost effective way.