Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Gulf Stream’

oceanbased-tidal-launch.902568

Photo: OceanBased Perpetual Energy
Using the constant flow of the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean to generate power holds promise for an energy future based on renewables.

People fighting global warming have been understandably concerned that coronavirus has soaked up all the oxygen (to coin a phrase) in the public forum. On social media, they try to remind us that health issues — and racial justice, too, for that matter — are inextricably tied to pollution, global warming, and climate justice. I heard one expert opine on the radio that our clearer skies would not last and that as polluting manufacturing slows down so does manufacturing related to renewable energy.

So I was happy to see from today’s story that inventors in the renewable arena are still inventing.

Craig Pittman writes at the Washington Post, “Nasser Alshemaimry was on a boat last month, heading for a spot in the Atlantic Ocean to test out his turbines. He was also, he said, heading for completion of his final life goal.

“ ‘This is my last hurrah,’ said Alshemaimry, 70. ‘I’m going to do this and then retire.’

“A year ago his company, OceanBased Perpetual Energy, agreed to work with Florida Atlantic University to develop a way to generate electricity by harnessing the steady-flowing Gulf Stream, the powerful ocean current that brings warm water from the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic and up the East Coast to Canada. Now his company was ready for the first test of five types of turbines to see which one would work best while anchored 80 feet below the ocean’s surface.

“A successful test, Alshemaimry said, would lead to a project that would cost an estimated $16 billion. The goal: in five years, producing 5 gigawatts of electricity from turbines spun by the Gulf Stream, which would be sent through underwater cables to a power distribution station built in the West Palm Beach area.

“The 12-person team submerged the turbines in the Gulf Stream current approximately 20 miles offshore between Broward and Palm Beach counties [and] left them there for 24 hours to see which ones would spin the best in the Gulf Stream’s flow, producing power with the fewest problems. …

“All of the turbines worked well, but the team selected a design that looks like a pair of airplane engines mounted on a single wing to eliminate the torque caused by the rotating propellers.

Ocean energy works very much like wind power — the force of the sea turns the propellers of a turbine, activating a generator to produce electricity.

“Small numbers of underwater energy devices are unlikely to harm marine life, change their habitats or affect the natural flow of ocean waters, according to [oceanographers] with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in conjunction with the International Energy Agency. But submerged turbines do come with unique challenges — electrical parts have to be sealed and must resist corrosion, while underwater repairs are disruptive and difficult.

“Producing energy from the ocean is not a new idea. The La Rance tidal power station in Brittany, France, has been using 24 turbines to convert ocean tides into electrical power since 1966. Ocean power produces none of the carbon emissions linked to climate change, and it appeals to some energy executives because tides and currents are predictable, unlike solar and wind. But the cost of building the complex infrastructure required is so great that, so far, solar and wind have outpaced it. …

“ ‘Many of these niche applications, while interesting and helpful for research purposes, can’t compete in the wholesale power market,’ said the [Energy Information Administration’s] Glenn McGrath. …

“Gabriel M. Alsenas, director of the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Florida Atlantic, said that’s in part because ocean energy hasn’t been given the same government subsidies [as] solar and wind. …

“Alshemaimry, a Saudi entrepreneur with prior experience building solar-powered homes, spent several years working on a never-completed tidal energy project in Sweden. Then [he] met a U.S. Department of Energy official who suggested he contact Alsenas at Florida Atlantic University about the use of ocean currents. …

“After one phone conversation … Alsenas said, Alshemaimry dropped his Swedish project, switched from waves to currents and moved his entire operation. …

“ ‘Tidal is not 24/7 power,’ [Alshemaimry] said. ‘It’s back and forth. … The Gulf Stream flows 24/7/365.’ ” More here.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: