Monday, 10 May 2010

Wave Hello to Tidal Power

Analysis by Emily Laut Sat May 8, 2010 11:14 PM ET
“Deep Green” looks like someone’s flying kites from the sea floor. With its 12-meter (39-foot) wingspan and 100-meter (328-foot) cable tethering it to the ocean floor, all it’s missing is a colorful tail.
Though its wingspan seems big, the kites are small compared to other tidal energy designs. That’s one of the big advantages to Deep Green. The kite’s small size lets its turbine operate at greater depths, where currents are slower, boldly going where no tidal turbine has gone before.
When anchored, Deep Green can be steered into a figure-eight like a sport kite, its turbine capturing tidal energy at ten times the speed of the actual stream velocity, according to Minesto, the Swedish developers of Deep Green. When operational, one Deep Green sea kite is expected to generate 500 kilowatts of power.
But hold on to your Pop Tarts. It will be a few years before sea kites power your toaster. Testing is scheduled to start in Northern Ireland in 2011. Minesto hopes to have a commercial model of Deep Green out in four years.
As fossil fuels dwindle, the need for renewable energy sources becomes clear; scientists have even drawn up plans to power the planet with purely renewable energy. More and more companies are working with solar, wind, and tidal power. Tidal turbines’ main drawback is their cost, but the predictability of the tides makes up for it. When wind farms and solar panels get skunked on calm, cloudy days, the tides still come in like clockwork.