Posted by Big Gav
WorldChanging has an article on ocean/tidal power up, which makes the bold claim that by 2050, ocean/tidal power will represent the largest source of centralized energy production worldwide.
We've posted a number of items about ocean power (aka tidal power or wave power). It's the dark horse renewable energy system -- not many people are aware of it, but the more one learns about its features, the more attractive it becomes. Less transient than wind or solar power and less of a visual trigger for NIMBY backlash than wind turbines, ocean/tidal is starting to get more attention. If I was a betting man, I'd wager that, by 2050, ocean/tidal power will represent the largest source of centralized energy production worldwide (solar will probably figure higher overall, with the broad use of solar-embedded building materials, paints and polymers).
Technology Review has a good overview article on ocean power, including links to some companies developing the technologies and some discussion of current projects. Few of the technological or environmental claims in the piece will come as much of a surprise to WorldChanging readers. What might be a bit more startling is the news that the US Department of Energy has discontinued funding for ocean power development. As of the present the UK appears to be pushing to become the world leader in ocean/tidal power.
Oh, and one last cool thing about ocean power. Tides are generated from the pull of the Earth's moon. Ocean power can, in all seriousness, also be called Lunar Power.
Clark Boyd also did a radio program last year (Windows Media) describing the race to harness wave energy.
The Tech Review article "Ocean Power Fights Current Thinking" notes "Ocean waves provide a predictable source of energy that is easily tapped, and will likely have minimal impact on the environment, but the U.S. government is not pursuing this renewable resource.".
Australia should be well positioned to try and harness tidal energy, but projects seem to be thin on the ground (or in the ocean). I've previously mentioned Atlantis Energy's Aquanator, but nothing seems to have come of that effort.
Western Australia’s tidal energy potential has been actively promoted in the past, with a project proposed near the town of Derby, which is situated at the head of two adjacent inlets off the King Sound. The inlets would be connected via an artificial channel. By damming each inlet, differences in water levels in each basin could be controlled which would enable flow via the connecting channel. Power take-off would be achieved from a bank of turbines housed in a structure built in this channel. The project’s promoters submitted this scheme to the state government, which compared the scheme with an alternative gas-fired power plant and decided in July 2000 not to proceed with the tidal project.
There has also been some talk about a possible project near Fraser Island, but at this point its hard to see any of the possible tidal energy projects here getting the go ahead, in spite of the huge tidal ranges in the north of the country (far away from where most of the population lives).