Tidal Energy

Wave Goodbye, Tidal Energy Is Almost Here

Nebraska, the good ole’ corn state. Here we have all the resources we need when we want them. We have all the water we need, clean air, healthy dirt and we never have to worry about energy. Or do we? We all know, or at least have heard about wind energy from the huge windmills that cover some parts of the Mid-Plains. We’ve seen nuclear energy from a well known disaster called Fukushima. And we’ve all seen some different ways of people trying to use solar energy. But most people don’t have a clue about tidal energy. Of course, being in the middle of Nebraska, there would not be very much energy that would come from the waves off of the East or the West coast, but yet there are still ways of harnessing energy from waterways anywhere. With this rather new source of raw energy, we know that it will not be the main source of energy anytime soon. Especially since there is still discussion on whether or not the benefits of tidal energy will outweigh the downfalls.

The same water that is used for fun activities is also used to make clean energy.

But what does wave energy have to do with Nebraska. I mean, come on, do we really care about how well the Aussies are using their water whether it be for energy or for boiling their kangaroo stew? The answer is simply no, because we are Americans. The answer that we would be looking for would be in the device called Vivace. Vivace greatly expands our ability to harness energy from slow currents, even as slow as one knot which is about 1.15 mph. There’s no other technology that can be placed into such a slow flow and harness energy. (Davies, S. 2009)  The Vivace’s oscillations imitate the swim strategy of a small school of fish which makes it less likely to be harmful to aquatic life than dams or water turbines.

The Missouri River is deep enough and is capable of giving us energy.

And, because the installations are positioned on the floor of deeper rivers such as the Missouri River or even in Lake McConaughy, it would not interfere with our precious fishing, boating and swimming time in the summer.(Wood, J. 2004).The major hurdle now is neither creative nor technical; it’s a matter of getting clearances from some two dozen federal and state agencies. These agencies are looking at the safety of nesting fish in the area and if it affects the food on which they feed. As Michael Bernitsas from Detroit’s Renaissance Centre says, “We’re where cars were 100 years ago.” So now, all Nebraska needs to do is wait till agencies give it the clear and hope that it won’t take us 100 years to get where we need to be.

It’s not all about America?!

Even though, as Americans, we don’t care about the Asians unless they have oil, we do have to recognize the ways they are collecting energy. They have ways of collecting energy that we have not yet implemented in the U.S. and there for are screwing the world over one day at a time with unclean energy.

Jaggungarisum Ansan City, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea

  • Ten turbines are expected to transmit 507,629 gigawatts (one billion watts) per hour of electricity annually to the Korean electricity grid. (Leary, D.; & Esteban, M. 2011)
  •  savings in greenhouse gas emissions estimated around 315,440 tons of CO2.
  • will be a reduction of 0.05% of South Korea’s yearly greenhouse gas emissions.

 Zhejiang Province of China

  •   Built eleven of these, only four came away producing electricity.
  • One of these four stations ceased operation due to the high cost of operating the plant, when the local area was connected to the national grid.

Waves off of the shore of New Zealand give the country 3% of the country’s needs.

Northland, New Zealand

  • This plant will involve the installation of up to 200 submerged marine tidal turbines near the entrance to Kaipara Harbour.(Leary, D.; & Esteban, M. 2011)
  • The turbines are expected to generate nearly 200 megawatts.
  • Will supply electricity for up to 250,000 homes or roughly 3% of New Zealand’s total electricity needs.

These may not seem like a very high percentages, but this is also just a starting point and in a few places in the world. After even more improved technology and increase ofmarine renewable energy installations (MREI) being built, they will be dealing a great amount of damage to the CO2 levels, in the greatest ways possible.

There’s A Catch Right?

Since tidal energy is a rather new subject with so many different energy collecting possibilities whether it be in the air or under the sea, just like everything else, it still has its potential flaws.

  • One that would be obvious to the eye, would be MREI taking up room in the ocean.(Inger, R., 2009) But then again, oceans are very big and will not have problem putting some machinery in it.
  • We do not know the ecological effect that it could have. We could kill of species that we don’t even know about yet.

A rare Black Seahorse among the reef

  • Animals as big as whales, fish as small as sardines, or even a bird on the surface could have the potential for a collision hazard. The collision hazards presented by MREI are divided into two main sections:
    • Avian collisions: (Inger, R., 2009) A small amount of collisions are because of wind turbines that are rooted to the sea floor.
      • Birds diving for their prey and running into the machines slightly below or above sea level. Sure, birds may not be as smart as us, but how many times have you ran into the door right in front of you?
      • Direct fatality is unknown, yet there is still the variation of birds that may break a wing, leg, or another fragile bone against the material of the machine. Making the bird immobile and increasing the risk of death. (Leary, D.; & Esteban, M. 2011)
    • Collision of underwater vertebrates: virtually nothing is known about the potential for collision of these animals and MREI. That, of course, could be just because the government doesn’t want us to know… but I’m sure there will be a leak sometime. (Leary, D.; & Esteban, M. 2011)

      This is one of the wave energy platforms that are above the water.

      • There is a vast array of designs and gadgets for wave and tidal energy collectors which may pose greater hazards.
      • Using analogies, we can assume that fixed submerged structures are likely to not pose much of a threat. (Inger, R., 2009)
      • Cables, power lines, chains, and components free-moving on the surface or in the water pose a much higher risk of collision.
      • Many proposed devices have rotating turbines, which have the potential to seriously injure or kill organisms.

Finally… The Benefits

Usually we see energy coming from waves and slow currents as a great benefit to the surrounding cities. But there are also some points that the everyday muggle may not find.

  • Unlike solar and wind power, tidal energy is constant whether the weather acts up or not.
  • When these large structures with multiple arrays of devices are built, they are enclosed within enforced exclusion zones for both safety and protection of the installations. (Inger, R., 2009)
    • Because of the exclusion zone, fisheries and other public companies cannot be in the area. So these areas are practically being turned into marine-protected zones.
  • Along with most of these areas being protected, “artificial reefs” have started to show up.

    An artificial reef finds a home amidst the wreckage of a plane.

    • These artificial reefs are often found to be useful to enhance habitat rehabilitation, for coastal protection, and to attract tourists. All adding to the wealth of the benefits of tidal energy.
    • They are found on structures fixed to the seabed, and whose function is to not act as a reef. But of course, nature takes it’s course and forms these reefs around oil platforms and piers.  (Davies, S. 2009)

We Can Do It

Knowing what kind of energy MREI can prduce shows that there is great potential for tidal energy in the near future. We have great minds studying and researching, but that might not be just enough. The major hurdle now is neither creative nor technical; it’s a matter of getting clearances from some two dozen federal and state agencies. Thanks Obama. But once people realize what wave energy could do for us, it is then possible for scientists to get the funding they need to finance their research and finally be able to have a clean economically friendly source of energy that will be able to power the coasts of the world year round.

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Works Cited

Davies, S. (2009). Good vibrations [power ocean energy]. Engineering & Technology (17509637), 4(14), 54-56. doi:10.1049/et.2009.1412

Inger, R., Attrill, M. J., Bearhop, S., Broderick, A. C., James Grecian, W., Hodgson, D. J., & … Godley, B. J. (2009). Marine renewable energy: potential benefits to biodiversity? An urgent call for research. Journal Of Applied Ecology, 46(6), 1145-1153. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01697.x

Leary, D., & Esteban, M. (2011). Recent developments in offshore renewable energy in the Asia-Pacific region. Ocean Development & International Law, 42(1/2), 94-119. doi:10.1080/00908320.2010.521039

Wood, J. (2004). Racing the waves. Power Engineer, 18(3), 24-26

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Thank you so much for reading!!!!

Here’s a potatoe.

Potatoe

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