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Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Lunar energy could offer a steady, predictable supply

November 11th, 2011 by cdunagan

The gravitational pull of the moon offers an enormous potential to provide electrical power, since ocean tides move massive amounts of water on a regular schedule.

Harnessing ocean energy has the potential of providing a steady, predictable power supply. And, while wind and solar power are still favored on a cost basis, tidal power has the benefit of being always on, undiminished by clouds or lack of wind. That alone is considered a major benefit when it comes to operating the regional power grid.

This week’s conference on ocean energy in Bremerton turned out to be interesting, not only for the types of technology discussed but also for its variety of viewpoints — including fishermen who want to make sure tidal turbines don’t hurt their operations. Check out the story I wrote for Thursday’s Kitsap Sun.

In the Puget Sound region, the Snohomish County Public Utility District is studying the potential environmental effects of placing a tidal turbine in Admiralty Inlet between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island. A small pilot project is all that is planned at this time.

At the Bremerton conference, Jim Thomson of the University of Washington described some of the ongoing studies, from measurements of currents passing through Admiralty Inlet to the possible effects of noise on sealife. So far, concerns appear to be manageable. I reported some of Thomson’s comments in my story.

Another news report on the project itself was written this past summer by Charlie Bermant of the Peninsula Daily News. Charlie reported that the latest schedule calls for installing the turbines in 2013.

The top video on this page depicts a commercial turbine developed by OpenHydro, the company working with the PUD on the Admiralty Inlet site. The second video, though made in 2008, offers a nice perspective of the overall effort by SnoPUD General Manager Steve Klein.

Worldwide, the quest for energy is not bypassing the gravitational power of the moon. John Daly of Oilprice.com reported last week that Rolls Royce, which has become a formidable player in the energy business, has developed a tidal turbine that could make inroads into Great Brittain’s electrical needs — although Daly failed to describe the potential cost obstacles.

Needless to say, this subject is worth following, and sponsors of the Bremerton event — including organizer Cleantech West Sound — are already discussing new issues that could be discussed at a repeat conference next year.

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2 Responses to “Lunar energy could offer a steady, predictable supply”

  1. HWSlach Says:

    Why does it have to be so complicated? The waterwheel that was used by grist mills could do the same thing. The electrical parts could all be on land. A couple of pier supports would be all the fishermen would have to worry about.

  2. Scott Turchin Says:

    Of course if you actually WENT to the moon adn brought back a dumptruck full of the surface material you could create fusion power for a YEAR for the U.S.

    Unfortunately helium 3 just doesn’t exist on this planet, only on the moon…

    Tidal would be cool though.

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"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist

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