Cylinders arranged over a cubic metre of the sea or river bed in a flow of three knots can produce 51 watts. This is more efficient than similar-sized turbines or wave generators, and the amount of power produced can increase sharply if the flow is faster or if more cylinders are added. A "field" of cylinders built on the sea bed over a 1km by 1.5km area, and the height of a two-storey house, with a flow of just three knots, could generate enough power for around 100,000 homes. Just a few of the cylinders, stacked in a short ladder, could power an anchored ship or a lighthouse.
The scientists behind the technology, which has been developed in research funded by the US government, say that generating power in this way would potentially cost only around 3.5p per kilowatt hour, compared to about 4.5p for wind energy and between 10p and 31p for solar power. They say the technology would require up to 50 times less ocean acreage than wave power generation." If we could harness 0.1 per cent of the energy in the ocean, we could support the energy needs of 15 billion people. In the English Channel, for example, there is a very strong current, so you produce a lot of power."
Because the parts only oscillate slowly, the technology is likely to be less harmful to aquatic wildlife than dams or water turbines. And as the installations can be positioned far below the surface of the sea, there would be less interference with shipping, recreational boat users, fishing and tourism.
TPJ: This is exactly the kind of technology that Barack Obama has said wants to see developed and funded. Obama is basically the first U.S. President who is seriously committed to establishing a broad, futuristic, new energy grid that will include more green energy sources than ever before. We are sewing together the patchwork needed to become energy independent using water where available, solar in landlocked dry desert locations and wind power in often gusty plains. It is one of the reasons that I am excited to have him in as president and I really believe that some major changes for the better are in store under his leadership.
He represents the younger generations who are the ones increasingly in charge of businesses and government. These generations have a new perspective on the energy problems we face and we see it as the movement of our time. It is the challenge of our time much like WW2 was for our grandparents and the 60's for our parents. I know that combined with forward thinking and young at heart baby boomers that we can solve our energy crisis and especially with the strong leadership and committment from President Barack Obama.
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