een wereldwijd elektriciteitsnet een oplossing voor veel problemen  GENI es una institución de investigación y educación-enfocada en la interconexión de rejillas de electricidad entre naciones.  ??????. ????????????????????????????????????  nous proposons la construction d’un réseau électrique reliant pays et continents basé sur les ressources renouvelables  Unser Planet ist mit einem enormen Potential an erneuerbaren Energiequellen - Da es heutzutage m` glich ist, Strom wirtschaftlich , können diese regenerativen Energiequellen einige der konventionellen betriebenen Kraftwerke ersetzen.  한국어/Korean  utilizando transmissores de alta potência em áreas remotas, e mudar a força via linha de transmissões de alta-voltagem, podemos alcançar 7000 quilómetros, conectando nações e continentes    
What's Geni? Endorsements Global Issues Library Policy Projects Support GENI
Add news to your site >>

About Us

Ocean Offers Hope for Green Energy

Sep 25, 2008 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Five miles off the southern tip of Long Beach Island, an oversize yellow buoy floats alone, purposefully mounting the waves and occasionally phoning home.

After two years it has proven itself, at least to its inventors, as a workable design for what may well be the biggest technological quest of the 21st century: renewable energy.

With every significant bob of the buoy, pistons slide up and down inside a cylinder, generating electricity.

Not much, to be sure. New Jersey waves are small and variable compared to the powerhouses that approach the West Coast.

But the test buoy makes enough power to run its onboard computer and other systems, and to send periodic progress reports to its manufacturer, Ocean Power Technologies of Pennington, N.J.

OPT is headquartered near the Princeton home of co-founder George W. Taylor, a 74-year-old engineer who learned the power of waves as a young surfer growing up in Australia.

Taylor considers his Jersey buoy a showcase of the potential for wave "farms" _ clusters of buoys moored off the more vigorous coasts of the world, pumping electricity ashore via underwater cables.

Indeed, ocean energy is "probably the last of the large natural resources not yet investigated for producing electricity in the United States," according to a report from the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute.

While the technology is still in its infancy, the report predicts ocean energy could be among the most environmentally benign generation methods yet developed.

The vast bulk of the world's energy, of course, is produced using coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear or hydroelectric power, each of which poses serious environmental risks.

The least harmful sources are solar, wind, geothermal and what can be called "hydrokinetic" _ electricity generated from waves or directly from the flow of water in ocean currents, tides or inland waterways.

Roger Bedard, the institute's ocean energy expert, says the potential for getting power from waves and tides is "significant."

It could generate the equivalent of 10 percent of the nation's current power needs, says Bedard, who maintains this is no pie-in-the-sky figure but one that already accounts for inefficiencies and practicalities.

Europe is far ahead of the United States, although proposals here have been mounting.

In 2005 and 2006 combined, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued just four preliminary permits for hydrokinetic projects. That number rose to 33 in 2007, and 77 so far this year.

The three-year permits are intended to allow companies to do needed studies and planning. But so many companies have used them to, in effect, reserve vast swaths of ocean for themselves that the agency insisted on more project specifics and began to scrutinize them more strictly, spokeswoman Celeste Miller says.

Most of the permits have been for projects harnessing river flows _ chiefly along the Mississippi and several Alaskan waterways. On the East Coast, one company has been experimenting with turbines off Manhattan.

But Bedard and others say ocean waves hold the most promise. One reason is that they can generate electricity where it's needed most. About half the world population lives within 50 miles of coastline.

Waves also are more dense than wind _ compare sticking your arm out the window of a speeding car to putting it into the water beside a speedboat _ so they can generate electricity more efficiently. And unlike offshore windmills, wave buoys have a low profile, hardly visible from shore.

Designs under development _ with vivid names such as Wave Dragon, Anaconda and Oceanlinx _ range from undulating, snakelike contraptions to massive, in-water ramps that waves climb before falling into a reservoir, generating power in the process.

OPT's PowerBuoy requires waves at least 4 feet high, and Taylor says the design has proven its mettle up to wave heights of about 22 feet. Above that, it automatically shuts down and rides out the storm.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's only commercial license for any hydrokinetic project so far has gone to a Canadian company whose plans to install buoys off Washington state have stalled.

Bedard says OPT is leading the field, and he expects it will build the nation's first commercial-scale project.

That would be just off the small Oregon town of Reedsport. There, as all along the coast, waves whipped up by the prevailing west-to-east winds _ and not slowed by a shallow continental shelf close to shore _ arrive after crossing the Pacific with roughly triple the wave energy of the East Coast, Bedard says.

The OPT buoy is designed to work in about 150 feet of water, where waves retain about 90 percent of their energy. By depths of 50 feet, Taylor says, the sea bed has absorbed most of it.

The company hopes to moor 10 buoys off Reedsport, each capable of generating power equivalent to the amount used by 150 homes.

If final approval comes through, the first buoy would go into the water next year, Taylor says. The "smart parts" _ the controls _ would be built in New Jersey, the steel structure in Oregon.

Reedsport mayor Keith Tymchuk is a supporter. "The time has come for us to test this method of generating what seems to be very green electricity," he says.

Many say the project will provide jobs. But opposition has come from fishermen and watermen who harvest the region's famed Dungeness crabs and fear competition for the ocean.

Other concerns about wave power include disturbance of the seabed, altered erosion patterns onshore, fish or birds being struck by moving parts, and whales getting tangled in submerged cables.

Still, "you don't have to put in the whole Hoover Dam all at once," Bedard says. Install a few buoys and, if the impact is acceptable, add more.

It was during the first oil crunch, in the mid-1970s, that Taylor began to ponder how to harness the power of waves.

With experience as an electrical engineer at RCA's Sarnoff research lab in Princeton and as founder of a company that developed flat liquid crystal displays for digital watches and instruments, Taylor started OPT with a colleague in 1984. Their first buoy was launched off New Jersey in 1997.

There was little interest in renewables on Wall Street, and OPT got listed on the London stock exchange in 2003. In 2007, they were listed in Nasdaq. The company, which now has 50 employees, raised more than $130 million from the two initial public stock offerings.

It has a $1.7 million Navy contract to use a buoy to power an underwater acoustic detection system on the edge of the continental shelf off New Jersey. Commercial buoys are set to be launched within weeks in Hawaii and Spain, and various other projects are in the works around the world.

Midway through his 70s, Taylor says he finds himself "driven by my age." The field is too exciting to retire.

He says he can now generate electricity for roughly 5 to 15 cents per kilowatt hour _ more than the 4 to 7 cents for natural gas and coal estimated by the International Energy Agency, but closing.

"We believe we're going to be the lowest of the renewables," Taylor says, "probably even lower than fossil fuels, the way prices are going."


Updated: 2016/06/30

If you speak another language fluently and you liked this page, make a contribution by translating it! For additional translations check out (Voor vertaling van Engels tot Nederlands) (For oversettelse fra Engelsk til Norsk)
(Для дополнительных переводов проверяют )