Stories tagged turbines

An underwater turbine farm producing enough electricity to power 250,000 homes could one day be installed in the Mississippi. Though the project faces some funding and development challenges, the technology has real promise for a river delta starved of sediments. What if dams could be removed and replaced with freestanding turbines?

Jul
27
2009

Green energy? What about trying a little blue energy for a change? Blue seems just as wholesome and non-threatening, right?

In a similar vane to my last post on algae the geniuses of the world have come up with another truly brilliant "why didn't I think of that" kind of idea. It seems to make so much sense! It's so big ... and powerful ... and blue ...
We Have Come A Long Way: Now, just imagine that...but under water!
We Have Come A Long Way: Now, just imagine that...but under water!Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Engineers at Blue Energy have developed, with support from the Army Corps of Engineers a turbine for the ocean. No no, not a wind turbine ON the ocean (my mom just made that mistake) but an underwater turbine that will harness the powerful ocean currents to create possibly the most sustainable energy source we know of!

Here is what we know: Water turbines will be placed in the Gulf Stream near Florida and they will work much like land wind turbines (using a rotater blade, which when made to spin by wind or water, creates energy!).

There is still a considerable amount of work to do before water turbines can be utilized. Frederick Driscoll, director of Florida Atlantic University's Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology strives to be realistic about the future of water turbines. A resource assessment of the Gulf Stream is underway to help understand exactly how much energy can be safely extracted from the ocean, where exactly it should be extracted from and how to get the energy safely and efficiently to our homes without disrupting the ocean environment. So much to think about!
Always Something There: The strength of the Gulf Stream has been evident for hundreds of years.
Always Something There: The strength of the Gulf Stream has been evident for hundreds of years.Courtesy Library of Congress

Florida is the fourth largest state in the U.S. and the third largest consumer of energy. They are in dire need of a new energy source as many experts insist that Florida is on the brink of a very serious energy crisis. Much still needs to be done in the way of turbine technology in order to move ahead with incorperating them into the fleet of renewable energy sources. This past spring four acoustic Doppler current profilers were lauched off the coast of Florida to gather information about the currents, mainly to learn about the speed of the ocean currents. Ocean energy may become the crown jewel of the fleet.

Jul
07
2008

Snake power: It looks like an ordinary tube, but this device is a small version of the Anaconda, a snake-like tube that turns ocean wave power into electricity.
Snake power: It looks like an ordinary tube, but this device is a small version of the Anaconda, a snake-like tube that turns ocean wave power into electricity.Courtesy Atkins Global
Indiana Jones may hate snakes, but those looking for clean, renewable energy sources are loving the chances that a “snake” may be able to generate electricity from ocean waves.

It’s not a real snake, but an enormous rubber snake called the Anaconda. Stretching more than 600 feet long, the Anaconda produces energy as it is squeezed by the passing waves of ocean water that it is submerged in. The process is very similar to what happens with a windsock fluttering in the wind.

The Anaconda is filled with seawater and is sealed at both ends. The trailing end of the snake has turbines. As the ocean waves ripple by the Anaconda, the water inside is squeezed and pushed in bulges that move toward the turbines. When the bulges get there, their energy turns the turbines.

The idea is being developed by the British firm Atkins Global. This is all still in the testing stages, but if the research pans out, the Anacondas would be submerged in ocean waters at depths of 120 to 300 feet.

So far, however, researchers are testing their theory on smaller snakes in a wave tank. Seawater testing could begin next year and if everything is successful, the technology could go online commercially in five years. Estimates figure one full-sized Anaconda could generate 1 megawatt of electricity, about the same amount of power for 2,000 homes.

Jun
11
2007

Wind farms produce clean energy, but some people consider them eyesores: Photo by fieldsbh at Flickr.com
Wind farms produce clean energy, but some people consider them eyesores: Photo by fieldsbh at Flickr.com

A new book, Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound, tells the story of efforts to build wind turbines off the coast of Cape Cod to provide clean, renewable energy for the state of Massachusetts. However, some of the wealthy people who live in the area – including some renowned environmentalists – object to the project located so close to their own homes.

This article from the Cape Cod Times describes some of the legal maneuvering that has thus far blocked the project. One objection is that wind turbines kill migrating birds. The reporter did some research and came up with the following statistics:

Human-caused bird deaths

• Domestic cats: Hundreds of millions a year
• Striking high-tension lines: 130 million - 1 billion a year
• Striking buildings: 97 million to 976 million a year
• Cars: 80 million a year
• Toxic chemicals: 72 million
• Striking communications towers: 4 to 50 million a year
• Wind turbines: 20,000 to 37,000

Source: National Research Council

Clearly, turbines are not a major threat to birds, while the clean energy they provide would be a major boost to the environment. So why are some environmentalists opposed? The authors of the book say it’s because the turbines, several miles off the coast, would still be visible from their beach-front property. (It is also interesting to note that some of the anti-turbine legislation has been proposed by congressmen from states that just happen to produce a lot of coal.)

For an overview of the issue, read this article from The Boston Phoenix.

A Virgina-based company is building wind turbines...under water. Wind-powered turbines produce electricity in many parts of the country. The company hopes to use similar technology to harness the power of steadily-flowing rivers.