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View Full Version : Arctic town to get offbeat tidal energy


vniow
Nov 8, 2002, 12:52 AM
OSLO, Norway — In a novel use of clean energy, the world's most northerly town will soon be the first to get electricity from a sub-sea power station run on tidal currents tugged by the moon.

Gigantic forces in the oceans — waves, currents, and tides — have often proved too costly or awkward to harness, compared to wind or solar power, in global efforts to cut reliance on nuclear power or on fossil fuels blamed for global warming.

Starting in late November or early December, however, a tidal current will start turning the blades of a windmill-like turbine standing on the seabed near Kvalsund at the Arctic tip of Norway.

"We will be the first in the world to use tidal currents to generate electricity to be fed into the local grid," said Harald Johansen, managing director of Hammerfest Stroem.

Other unorthodox sub-sea experiments to generate power from tidal currents from Australia to Britain have not gotten to the stage of selling power. All the technologies mark a shift in traditional methods of exploiting the tide. Tides have previously been tapped for use in power plants in France, Canada, and Russia by building barrages to trap water in artificial lagoons at high tide. When the tide goes out, gravity sucks the water through turbines to generate electricity.

But giant damming projects are out of fashion because they can damage the ecology of rivers and coastlines. Seabed turbines, by contrast, are silent and invisible, and fish can swim around them without getting sliced up.

"Of all the renewable energy technologies, ocean energy is probably the one in the earliest stages," said Mark Hammonds at the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris. "Many projects have proved to be too costly."

Tidal power exploits the gravitational pull of the moon, and to a lesser extent the sun, on the oceans as the Earth spins. The seas rise and fall in a cycle of 12 hours and 25 minutes and can cause sweeping currents along the seabed at the same time, like the ones seen off the north Norway coast. (http://www.enn.com/news/wire-stories/2002/11/11072002/reu_48896.asp)

MacBandit
Nov 8, 2002, 12:59 AM
Very cool. I wonder if they could put these in off shore ravines and capture the current flowing off the continental shelf?

Mr. Anderson
Nov 8, 2002, 06:36 AM
One thing they don't mention is maintenance. If its in a shallow area, that's not too bad, but farther out, it would be impractical. I read this on cnn and thought it was quite interesting, realizing that there are some many ways to harness energy, its just a matter of cost. If we ever do run out of gas/oil we'll have enough alternatives that it won't totally cripple us. Hopefully there will be a couple more generation before that happens and the alternatives of today will be the prefered method used, so it won't ever be an issue.

D

Zenith
Nov 8, 2002, 09:09 AM
It's nice to see that Norway will be one of the pioneer countries to take advantage of this new technology. The country has always been one of the worldleaders when it comes to waterpower. Iceland uses the heat that's coming from the inner earth to generate power, while Denmark uses a lot of windpower. Althought the windmills looks terrible and damages the appearance of nature, it's great that more and more countries takes advantages of generating energy from the infinite energysources on earth, and gets less and less depended on gas/oil.

MisterBlack
Nov 8, 2002, 01:39 PM
Originally posted by dukestreet
If we ever do run out of gas/oil we'll have enough alternatives that it won't totally cripple us.


Too little too late.
Once the oil supplies run dry, the economies built around them will collapse.
What then? Global poverty? Mass starvation? Mass deaths, then disease, then a true cleansing, Nature reasserts itself and humanity (cancer) becomes a lot less important.

We can only hope the world kills us before we kill it.

CRMarvin42
Nov 8, 2002, 01:53 PM
Fossil fuels are basicly carbon reserves. the energy is harvested from the few by breaking bonds between carbon molecules with the aid of oxygen molecules. In fact all of the worlds oxygen is the result of the carbon that has been tied up by living organisms, (trees, animall, fossilized life). In order to run out of Oil/gas/coal. we would need to burn off all of the planets oxygen as well. Eventually we could run out of oil but by that time the planets atmosphere would contain negligable concentrations of oxygen any way and wouldn't be able to suport animal life at all.

kind of morose but it is fairly acurate

MisterBlack
Nov 8, 2002, 02:05 PM
Originally posted by CRMarvin42
In order to run out of Oil/gas/coal. we would need to burn off all of the planets oxygen as well.

This would only be true if we used oil/gas/coal at the same rate as it is being created. And this is obviously not the case; look out the window and count the suv's.

Chad4Mac
Nov 8, 2002, 02:14 PM
I grabbed this pic from MSNBC News in a attempt to give you all a better idea of what where talking about here (if it doesn't work Click here (http://www.msnbc.com/news/831472.asp?cp1=1))

Probably the most important paragraphs in the article:
"The Norwegian subsea turbine will have a tiny capacity of 300 kilowatts and is due to expand to 20 mills from 2004, giving enough power for perhaps 1,000 homes.
_ _ _ _
Hammerfest, with 11,000 inhabitants, calls itself the world’s northernmost town. Johansen reckons the project there has cost 50 million Norwegian crowns ($6.7 million) so far and will cost twice that much by completion in 2004."

This town has major tidal swings per day (tens of feet, like many extreme northern latitudes), which greatly increases the volume of water that passes through the blades. In these extreme tidal regions is where the greatest potential lies with this technology; however, like with extreme tidal changes, there are extreme monetary cost. Norwegians can pay for it though, they are pretty high up there when looking GDP Per Cap (roughtly 30,000 USD).

Just for the company to get a return on their investment (not counting maintenance cots and other unforseen costs) , they would have to charge the 1000 towns people 100 USD per month for for nearly six years to break even. However, if these babies really work, after this stepping stone passes they could be in the money for years to come...

Just hope that the whales steer clear from those blades...

Chad4Mac

MacBandit
Nov 9, 2002, 12:28 AM
Originally posted by Chad4Mac

Just hope that the whales steer clear from those blades...

Chad4Mac


I highly doubt that the blades will spin fast enough or have enough mass to actually hurt a whale. I would be willing to bet that they are really light weight and will turn very slowly.

Kethoticus
Nov 9, 2002, 01:35 AM
Too little too late.

I wonder the same thing sometimes. The Kyoto Treaty's supposed to get undustrialized nations to curb carbon emissions by 5% in 10 years. Wowee. I hope we don't strain ourselves with such a generous sacrifice in such a short amount of time.


Once the oil supplies run dry, the economies built around them will collapse.

Maybe. Maybe not. I think that's too far away from now and a lot can happen in that time. I know that I'll be doing my part: God willing, I'll be setting up a house with solar panels when my girl and I get married and I'll be purchasing a "green" car. I think this mentality will continue to spread as time goes on. I also believe that our present tension with the Middle East is putting an accent on our need to do this.


What then? Global poverty? Mass starvation? Mass deaths, then disease,...

I think we're jumping the gun here just a bit. But if this DID happen, there would be mass deaths from war, because that's probably what would happen as nations felt the strain of the breath of death on their necks. Geez... I could see this ushering in the age of the antichrist. Germany fell prey to a dictator in their collective desperation. It only follows that the world would too under similar pressure.


...then a true cleansing, Nature reasserts itself and humanity (cancer) becomes a lot less important.

Not if there're are nuclear exchanges. In my own personal belief system, I believe the world will get much, much worse before the Lord returns to make it truly better. Not trying to preach here, but we are talking about something apocalyptic.


We can only hope the world kills us before we kill it.

Care to lead us by example?

Kethoticus
Nov 9, 2002, 01:48 AM
I got absorbed in my response to MisterBlack, and forgot to thank you for this positive story. It gives me hope for the future of the environment. Hey, have you heard about England's windpower project? It was about a year or so ago, but I read that there was an English city that was planning on constructing windpower towers at a beach, and it would "feed" about a million homes (or was it 100,000??). But stories like this give me hope that a real anti-oil trend could begin.

Mr. Anderson
Nov 9, 2002, 09:34 AM
Originally posted by MisterBlack

Too little too late.


Absolutely not. The only reason there hasn't been more development on alternative engery sources is because of need. There is plenty of oil still available and more that hasn't been tapped because its too expensive currently. Once the need becomes strong enough, coal and oil shale can be 'squeezed' to make gas, plants can be converted to energy sources - alcohol, methane, etc.

And if oil gets more expensive, fuel cells and other sources become more viable. I just see it as a matter of time before things turn that way - but it won't be the end of civilization as we know it.

And there are plenty of things you can do now to help - you doing anything MisterBlack?

D

MisterBlack
Nov 9, 2002, 01:12 PM
I forgot that i'm talking to basically a bunch of corporate lackeys, and kids who are about to grow up to become corporate lackeys. Therefore I don't blame you for being so ignorant about the world, and i certainly expect for you to think everything is going to be ok.

Originally posted by dukestreet
There is plenty of oil still available and more that hasn't been tapped because its too expensive currently. Once the need becomes strong enough, coal and oil shale can be 'squeezed' to make gas, plants can be converted to energy sources - alcohol, methane, etc.
This is a terrifying point of view. Even more so because it is held by the White Majority.

Originally posted by dukestreet
And there are plenty of things you can do now to help..
Do you think anything you do "for the environment" will make a **** lick of difference? It might, actually, if we were living in 1902.
Unfortunately, the american 20th century has managed to decimate the planet to the point of it being a hollow shell, soon no longer to support any life other than human.
You people think that buying organic oranges and hybrid hondas will affect the crises brought about by deforestation/clear cutting, strip mining, contstant oil burning (our ever increasing road system as a side effect), oil spills (the ones that happen every week that don't make it on your evening news), and the constant ongoing genocide of every plant and animal species imaginable.

Maybe these things are harder to see from your office or your suburb, on your couch or behind the wheel of your suv. I don't know.
Maybe you think that it's OK to find a solution to what is obviously a problem only when that problem gets so out of hand that it becomes a crisis.
Or maybe, just maybe, deep down you really don't care, because it's a problem that your short life will never see the real effects of. Perhaps if we lived three or four times longer, we'd be a little more concerned with the long term effects of our actions.

Originally posted by dukestreet
..you doing anything MisterBlack?
The question is, what am I not doing? I don't own a car, i own a bicycle. I don't even use public transit. I heat my house with firewood, not natural gas or electricity (which is produced by oil).
My question for you, is Did you even consider the gas mileage of your s.u.v when you bought it? Or did you get it because you thought it would impress other people?

I say go on ahead with your conspicuous consumption while unseen forces beyond our control pave the earth into a giant uniparkinglot. I say take your leaky motorboat out on the lake this weekend, or take your suv into the mountains or forest, throw your powerbar wrapper on the ground, and thank humanity for saving all this beauty. Just try to ignore the cars on the interstate and the power lines cutting through the trees.

Token
Nov 9, 2002, 02:02 PM
No, no. The core of the argument is not that our ressources aren't scarce. Economic theory says that WHEN oil resources become scarce the price will rise and demand weaken.. Therefore we will never run out of gas on a global scale. We will just have to find other energy forms at some point because it will be too expensive to fill in silly metal boxes on wheels. Gas will be used for REALLY useful things, like military vehicles ;-)

That crap about squeazing gas out of coal etc is really pathetic..
If we don't refine these alternative energy forms we will have a lot of wasteland highways and A LOT to do in the evenings instead of watching TV and surfing the 'net :D

Cappy
Nov 10, 2002, 12:03 AM
MisterBlack,

It's time to take your medication and go back to the institution again. ;)

I remember being in school back in the 70's and read in most of my school books about how we have a major oil shortage by the year 2000. There was a real widespread panic. Anyone paid attention to what year it is now? :)

There is always a way and so long as something doesn't physically cause damage to the mass of people on this planet life will go on. It might be different but it will go on. But it will be due to people truly providing time and resources and not by folks griping alot on their bicycle trying to carry a few pieces of firewood home for the night.

Consider that the time you now take to travel(bicycle) or provide heat(firewood) to your home is less time you might have to help in providing *real* solutions to the issues you bring up. Look at the bigger picture and try becoming a part of the solution.

Also consider that if your message were to somehow be accepted to the mass of people on the planet and everyone started using firewood and bicycles instead of the modern methods the economic scenario mentioned would be just as likely.

In summary let me remind folks that MisterBlack's statements are really nothing more than unproductive flamebait whether he be serious or simply joking. Hopefully though my points are understood by those who might have walked away believing his, oh how shall I put it...crap. :)

Kethoticus
Nov 10, 2002, 02:16 AM
It's time to take your medication and go back to the institution again.

I was kinda thinking the same thing ;-) I'm passionate and concerned about the environment (and have been since I was a pre-teen), but this guy has made it into a religion. Yes, serious, dramatic steps need to be taken. But saying that it's better if we all die is taking things to a questionable level--especially since Black's apparently still alive himself.

But to a certain point, I understand where Black's coming from. E.g., it concerns me a great deal that the trend for the polar caps seems to be that they are indeed shrinking. Alarming. And I don't know what I feel more sorry for: our coastal cities or the arctic creatures that need that icy environment for survival. Think about all those poor seals and polar bears that would die out of the north pole was to completely melt away. It would be an environmental disaster. And in fact, it is believed that this will actually happen as soon as 2050.


Also consider that if your message were to somehow be accepted to the mass of people on the planet and everyone started using firewood and bicycles instead of the modern methods the economic scenario mentioned would be just as likely.

If the mass of people accepted his message, we'd all be waiting for the earth to kill us.

I do have a question for Black: if it's so hopeless, why bother riding a bike? It doesn't matter anymore, right? And why are you using wood--a precious natural phenomenon--to heat your home? Isn't solar heating much less environmentally scarring? Sure, the cost for installation may be high, but what's more important--your wallet or your planet? Put your money where your mouth is. I plan to.

You make comments about my wanting to buy a hydrogen-powered--or even a hybrid--car, and yet what you're doing isn't much more effective, overall. The difference is that I'll get around a lot faster and I'll be destroying no forests to warm me in the winter. Not to mention the fact that my electricity will come from the sun, not burning coal (altho some power companies do use waterfalls to turn their turbines).


In summary let me remind folks that MisterBlack's statements are really nothing more than unproductive flamebait whether he be serious or simply joking.

Good point. But even if he's not deliberately trying to lay out flamebait, he clearly is not of the mind to have fair and reasonable discussions. It is best that his posts go ignored from now on. I'll be putting him on my ignore list after I post this.

Mr. Anderson
Nov 10, 2002, 07:03 AM
Originally posted by MisterBlack
I forgot that i'm talking to basically a bunch of corporate lackeys, and kids who are about to grow up to become corporate lackeys. Therefore I don't blame you for being so ignorant about the world, and i certainly expect for you to think everything is going to be ok.

Just try to ignore the cars on the interstate and the power lines cutting through the trees.

Its so tempting just to lay into you on this, but its really not worth it, agreeing with Cappy and the flamebaiting issue. My only comment is you don't even know who you're talking to, corporate lackeys, kids and being ignorant, etc.

If you're so worried about the environment, why are you heating your house with firewood which adds more pollution to the environment than gas/electricity? Since you're not offering solutions, just telling us all we're wrong and unless you have something constructive to say, its best you keep it to yourself.

D

Chad4Mac
Nov 11, 2002, 10:33 AM
Originally posted by MacBandit



I highly doubt that the blades will spin fast enough or have enough mass to actually hurt a whale. I would be willing to bet that they are really light weight and will turn very slowly.

Yea, I know. I was just kidding.

However, there are large populations of migrating whales within this northern region...

Chad4Mac