Marine renewable energy — it has great potential, but is yet unproven. That’s changing. Today we have the US Navy erecting tidal turbines off the coast of the state of Washington, and Verdant Power’s Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project http://www.verdantpower.com/what-initiative is being operated in New York City’s East River. The validity of this approach might seem questionable; after all, tide waters typically move at only a fraction of the speed as wind, there is no commercial-scale production, no standard technology, and it could cause havoc with divers, fishers, boaters and marine life. And, as anyone who owns a boat knows, anything “made for marine” tends to be much more expensive to purchase and maintain. On the flip side, water density is 832 times that of air, so it only takes 1/10th of the speed to generate equivalent power. Also — and most significantly — unlike wind, tides are predictable.
What an opportunity for the tech-savvy graduates of leading oceanography organizations like URI, Woods Hole, and the University of California – San Diego.
My prediction is, after significant advancements in tidal turbine technology and a better understanding of its limitations, both wind and tide (along with other innovations) will help tip the monetary scale in favor renewable energy.
For more on the Navy turbine project, read Navy to Explore Turning Ocean Currents Into Electrical Currents http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/mar/16/navy-to-explore-turning-ocean-currents-into/