Most of the emphasis these days is being placed on the latest solar and wind turbine systems to generate electricity. Part of the reason for that is that hydro generation has traditionally meant dams closing off rivers, which is both expensive and disruptive to nature. The Columbia River’s dams, for example, have taken major fire for that they interfere with salmon spawning. Any time a dam is put up within a state, those downstream of it will be upset that their source of fresh water is controlled by those upstream. The Rio Grand is a mere trickle of a stream by the time it gets to the Mexican border, and complaints about damming up the Colorado River are myriad and longstanding. The bottom line is that this has given people the erroneous perception that hydro-generation isn’t feasible. In this article, we’ll take a look at technologies that are entirely passive, and some new ideas that could generate considerable electricity by harnessing the power of the moon’s gravitational pull, tides and waves.
Wave power generation is not science fiction. Scotland’s Islay Wave Power Generator has been working continuously for years. New technology holds even more promise, in the form of anchored systems which would ride just below the surface. One such system, called the Anaconda, is boasting major production by harnessing wave motion, and can be placed well offshore. There are other sea-snake-type methods as well.
As early as 1970, methods of harnessing the ocean’s energy were already being put into motion. These were massive, ingenious and ambitious projects which relies upon the temperature differential between warm surface waters and the cold depths to drive the turbines. Unfortunately, the technologies of the time were not sufficient to the scale that the projects were built for, and they were not deemed cost-effective.Today’s techologies allow us to make far more responsive units, and to employ arrays of them rather than developing mammoth pipe systems such as OTEC-1. Some have even suggested using hydro-turbines very similar to surface wind turbines. New concepts in water wheels can generate electricity without damming up river waters. With so many methods and possibilities, hydro-electric solutions seem well worth investigating. The tremendous power of the ocean can easily move power generating turbines, and our technological abilities are now up to the task. Let us not forget these passive power harnesses as we move forward into non-combustion energy resources for our future.