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Power Earth Technology

Giant Snake-Shaped Generators Could Capture Wave Power 432

Posted by timothy
Roland Piquepaille writes "UK researchers have developed a prototype of a future giant rubber tube which could catch energy from sea waves. The device, dubbed Anaconda, uses 'long sea waves to excite bulge waves which travel along the wall of a submersed rubber tube. These are then converted into flows of water passing through a turbine to generate electricity.' So far, the experiments have been done with tubes with diameters of 0.25 and 0.5 meters. But if the experiments are successful, future full-scale Anaconda devices would be 200 meters long and 7 meters in diameter, and deployed in water depths of between 40 and 100 meters. An Anaconda would deliver an output power of 1MW (enough to power 2,000 houses). These devices would be deployed in groups of 20 or even more providing cheap electricity without harming our environment."
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Giant Snake-Shaped Generators Could Capture Wave Power

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  • Re:no consequences (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:02PM (#24078961)

    Well then put them in the Gulf of Mexico where we have already killed everything. As a bonus the dead zone gets bigger and bigger.

    Actually I was wondering what it would take to filter all the algae out of the dead zone and create biodiesel out of it. Basically we have produced the perfect algae breeding ground with all of the fertilizer from the heartlands, could we farm the gulf too and possibly reduce the effect of the algae on the rest of the gulf?

  • by bm_luethke (253362) <luethkeb@comca s t .net> on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:25PM (#24079131)

    We already know what large scale tidal power will do as it even has problems on a small scale.

    You have to take the energy from something - be it heat, sound, movement, or whatever. In this case we take it from movement. Namely tidal generator slow to stop much of the necessary long shore and littoral currents that move nutrients around that feed life close to the shore.

    So far we have no tidal farms that remove enough energy to have very bad effects, however the small scale generators in parts of western Europe (especially France) have had a minor to medium impact. It also tends to cause beach erosion in some places because there is a break in the sediment being moved around.

    Tidal generators really only make sense if your goal is to reduce carbon emissions - they definitely are a carbon free source of energy. However I'm not terribly interested in that, I'm interested in having the smallest foot print that we can reasonably do on the planet. Right now nuclear is that way but fear mongering has made it all but near impossible.

    Of the other viable methods out there fossil fuels is still has the over all least impact for major energy production. Hydroelectric has a relatively small footprint but can't be built anywhere, same is true for some types of geothermal (however some types also release massive amounts of sulfur which is worse than the carbon emissions). Solar may one day get there but not only is it too hard to produce a consistent large amount of electricity year round but the by products of creating the panels are harsh and so is the disposal of ones that break (this is arguably worse than those carbon emissions again).

    The problem with wind, tidal, and many of the others isn't in how it is getting the energy it is that the energy is a must to stay in it's current form - no amount of technology is going to change that. They can work OK in small places but that is really only much good for show and, again, I'm not terribly interested in making gestures that do nothing to make myself feel better.

    Unfortunately many so called "environmentalist" aren't really looking for some thing environmentally sound as much as they are into a political cause (say, reducing carbon emissions. They may be doing so because they don't know any better, it makes them feel good about themselves (many are this way - see the above about having small alternative generators for show), or have a radical agenda they are trying to get accepted through something less radical (say some of the people who feel we are a cancer on the earth and need to be destroyed). Many, if nor most, scientists do it for the funding.

  • Re:More Energy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:56PM (#24079327) Homepage Journal

    If you believe that humans are causing the climate to change, the answer is fewer humans. Lots fewer.

    Or the answer could be that each human should have less impact, starting with those with the MOST impact... the people in the USA.

  • trawlers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:08PM (#24079417)

    If the captain was elsewhere working and the trawler was on autopilot, snagging a field of those things in your nets would rip the rigging off completely and probably capsize the boat from the stern before he had time to react and reverse engines. Modern fishing boats are like big tractors, huge engines and big props designed to pull hard, and they will. As soon as they reach whatever big anchor point is there for the turbines, the bow will lift severely, then either the whole rigging will go or they sink, just pulled over backwards more or less. A lot of fishing boats have had similar misfortune when they snagged submarines in unexpected places. Of course, I would expect them to have lit buoys and so on above the turbines, and have it marked on charts, but weird stuff still happens in the oceans. I remember a close one one day when we hit some unmarked coral heads on what was supposed to be pretty flat mud bottom, Yikes! Reality changed fast, luckily the chunks of coral broke off before stuff tore up bad or we flipped. Still tore the nets up bad. You just never know, there's sea laws and theory, then practice. One night I was catnapping in between drags, first mate yells out "get up, get ready to jump!" An unlit freighter had crossed our path, she didn't see us, we didn't see her, we scraped down her side, pressure wave kept us from being really damaged. Like two feet more our way we would have been smashed. Not a huge distance in the ocean.

    Stuff just happens in the oceans and mass quantities of submerged and hidden anchored up things would be a menace without a lot of warnings of various kinds posted. Nowadays I guess you'd have GPS doing a lot of it, back then we had about zilch besides some ancient loran and mark 1 eyeballs.

  • Shoreline damage? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eagl (86459) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:15PM (#24079471) Journal

    Many shorelines require natural wave action and currents to remain healthy. It seems like this is yet another technological "solution" that might in the long run cause more problems. The potential issues with shoreline erosion (or whatever might happen when wave energy is dispersed prior to getting to the shore) won't happen as quickly and obviously as we have seen with wind farm bird kills (apparently those big slow moving windmills are pretty good at whacking birds), the effects could be as disastrous as some of the things we've done with the Florida Everglades and much of the gulf coast.

    The point that completely escapes many environmentalists, is that you can't just discard one technology and replace it with another, and expect everything to come out all right. There are damn good reasons behind the scientific method, and they do not include stomping feet, claiming anyone with a different opinion is trying to kill the world, or jumping headlong into untested technologies that, because they aren't bad in the same way as other technologies, must be 100% good. That's an insane way to pursue large-scale technology change, but that's what Gore and his army of environmental extremists consistently propose. Anything that replaces oil must be ok, even if it results in us burning food or in this case, disrupting wave energy and water currents along a stretch of shoreline. What could possibly go wrong? Idiots.

    Let's see some long-term studies in limited regional experiments before we dump too much money into this boondoggle. We already wasted far too much cutting down and burning rainforests to grow corn which we then turned around and burned... How about using tried and true scientific methods before we rush into something really harmful.

    In the meantime, we already have plenty of reasonably safe and clean technologies that have been in use for decades. Every nuclear power mishap that has ever occurred caused a mere fraction of the casualties we've had in just the last decade of conventional power plant and oil refinery mishaps... How about we start using the technology that doesn't actually kill anyone on an annual basis?

  • by The_Wilschon (782534) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:22PM (#24079515) Homepage

    The American mantra is that (1) expanding the population is always wonderful and (2) expanding the population by immigration is the best route.

    Hmmm, is that why the population density in the US is so much lower [wikipedia.org] than in most of the rest of the world? Wait, I'm confused.

    I'd say that most likely, we're best off pursuing fusion power with all the resources we have at our disposal. In the end, solar power is the same thing, hydrogen fusion. But the difference is, we can (in principle) get much more power out of fusing terrestrial hydrogen ourselves than the total incoming flux from the sun. We won't run out of terrestrial hydrogen for plenty long enough that we'll be able to build something approaching a Dyson sphere in time to keep our available power on a steady rise.

  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:22PM (#24079525) Journal

    Solar may one day get there but not only is it too hard to produce a consistent large amount of electricity year round but the by products of creating the panels are harsh and so is the disposal of ones that break

    This depends on the solar method. There's supposed to be a plant in either the planning or perhaps the early construction stages in Victor Valley, CA, which uses dishes to concentrate solar rays on a Stirling engine. I look periodically to find out its status, but solid progress seems to be a little elusive. Construction on a pilot plant near Barstow was supposed to begin late last year, but I'm not able to find anything clear on it. Still, the company has applied for a second plant in Imperial Valley, and they're saying that it should allow construction to begin by the end of 2009.

  • by soundguy (415780) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:48PM (#24079687) Homepage

    It always strikes me as optimistic when I see estimated power outputs and supposedly how many homes that would power.

    It strikes me as completely fraudulent when I see a non-constant used as an example of a constant metric. I can think of a few things that I'd rather see used.

    IIRC, one "horsepower" is something like 735 watts, so a megawatt is...let's see...carry the two...about 1360 horsepower.

    So...one of these tubes is the rough equivalent of three C5 Corvettes running wide open or in audio terms, 1/3 of a Rolling Stones concert.

  • by jeiler (1106393) <go,bugger,off&gmail,com> on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:51PM (#24079703) Journal
    One important factor there is whether or not energy at the coastline is beneficial, harmful, or neutral to the coastline (and the marine life there). If a reduction in energy has a neutral effect on marine life and reduces erosion, a reduction of energy may actually be a good thing.
  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:55PM (#24079725) Journal
    We're not over-populated. Take every single living person on this earth. All 6.6 billion. Stick them on the land mass of Texas only (none of the lakes or rivers). You'll have lower population density than greater New York City and most of the European capitals.

    Now take the remaining farmland in the US, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Don't convert an acre of forest, park, or city. No mountains, or prairies. Only the existing farmland. You can grow enough food for everyone (via a vegetarian diet).

    Now take the fresh water outflow of the Columbia river - the river separating Washington from Oregon. You've got 27 gallons of fresh water per person per day.

    Now put 700 nuclear plants in the deserts of Nevada. You have enough power for everyone to live at the energy consumption level of the US.

    Go do the research, you'll see this all to be true. We could support every single person on the face of the earth within 40% of the North American continent. No one on any other continent, island, or waterway.

    There aren't too many people; the issue is distribution of the resources. That is a political - not scientific - problem. We could feed the world and provide fresh water for everyone, if we could get countries to agree.

    And note that it is almost always the country that would benefit that restricts the offer of aid. Think Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Turkmenistan, North Korea. Those countries are stricken with poverty because of the G8 or the first world; they are stricken because twisted, maniacal leaders are power-drunk.

    Overpopulated? Not by a long shot. Poor distribution? Sure. The solution is to encourage free and expanded trade - and in some cases like Zimbabwe and Myanmar - a few well placed bullets. Economic growth is required to free more people.

    And when there's more people with freedom and no longer having to worry about their next meal, or their next drink of water, you'll find a lot more participation in solving other big problems facing the world.

  • by bm_luethke (253362) <luethkeb@comca s t .net> on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:59PM (#24079763)

    So, what do you suggest?

    Do we create massive amount of sulfur in the air rapidly killing everything with large scale geothermal? Do we sterilize the oceans with tidal generators? Do we cause massive upheaval that likes of which the most radical Global Warming people do not even think of with massive wind farms? All of these are inherent in the system, coming up with different ways to get the energy will not solve them.

    Then, of course, there are crazy radical things. For instance killing billions of living animals to reduce their carbon foot print. I am going to assume that you don't believe those ideas.

    Solar isn't able to meet our energy needs so it's not an option - hopefully one day it will but that is still far off. As far as "other" goes this one is the most likely, I will also assume you have a better plan than "something will come up". Nuclear would do quite well but it politically is the hardest of them all to get, if you can get it then I would be happy. And lastly we can go back to living primitive which I will again assume you don't mean since you are using a computer and posting on a technology website.

    You can list all the problems with CO2 and I agree, but outside of nuclear it is the smallest footprint out there that can meet our energy needs. Thus simply reducing CO2 does nothing and, in fact, tends to make things worse because we move to greater polluting methods. Just caring about reducing CO2 is like stopping your Cocaine habit by taking Heroine - not only did you not actually solve anything but you made the whole situation worse.

    As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Simply focusing on CO2 emissions is assuming there is a free lunch and it is called "reduce carbon!". It's not. At best we can try to use less energy but at this point (unless you are trying to hide a radical agenda that is a form of "move back to the stone age") that amount is irrelevant and goes back to that "make me feel good" thing.

  • by Keill (920526) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:17PM (#24079871) Homepage

    I know and understand that - but something that size for just 1MW seems a waste of engineering/manufacturing to me...

    Like the guy in the study said - (which I'd REALLY like to find) - a(some) 40GW nuclear plant(s) is(are) a very hard system to match - although some wind/solar/tidal will help, it still makes sense to use the most efficient system, (and this doesn't sound like it - only 1MW per object) - (though linking to solar power in the sahara is still the best technical solution - the best 'political', however, is, of course, another matter, which is where nuclear comes in).

    According to the study - (if I remember) - using all the available space in the UK for wind turbines and some offshore too, along with some tidal etc. STILL didn't produce enough power - I think we need a least a hundred GW, (or 2?), if I remember correctly, and this sort of system, along with wind turbines simply doesn't produce anywhere near enough power for national use...

  • by thetartanavenger (1052920) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:23PM (#24079897)

    Blue Energy's method seems more efficient since it uses predictable current, rather than waves, to generate power.

    Whilst predictable is highly desirable, it can leaves large gaps in production in between each predicted moment, like tidal for example. You've gotta find something that solves the times in between.

    When it comes to waves it's more a matter of probability instead. Stick one out at sea and you've got yourself a fluctuating unreliable power generator based upon the waves at the time. Stick enough of them out there and you're gonna get yourself a relatively constant output, whilst a few of them may have little to no waves, the others will. Slightly unreliable maybe, but all of these systems can't rely upon one source given it fail, and all of these issues can be managed using another alternate power source to level out the peaks etc.

    I don't see us ever giving up on non-renewables completely, simply for there reliability when the renewables become unavailable, but I can guarantee you that their usage will slowly become less and less as more and more of these renewable sources are developed.

  • Re:More Energy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MaverickSoftware (1271464) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:30PM (#24079937)

    If you believe that humans are causing the climate to change, the answer is fewer humans. Lots fewer.

    Or the answer could be that each human should have less impact, starting with those with the MOST impact... the people in the USA.

    And not any other country that has even MORE impact on the climate? How about all those 3rd world countries that are working hard to catch up w/ us.... with NONE of the laws and controls that we have?

  • Re:More Energy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:36PM (#24079975)

    The US ain't shit. It's CHINA.

    Don't get me wrong, Americans are using up resources like crazy with seemingly little regard for the future or for anyone else.

    However, CHINA is 100x worse. They are ramping up their economy ridiculously fast and they make us look like environmental super heroes.

    Do some research.

    There is at least *some* movement in the US towards better energy policies, implementation (not just development) of alternative energy technologies, and an economic motivation to do so stronger than ever before.

    I have seen China first hand too by the way. 20 cities, and not as a tourist, but for business. I saw the conditions in the factories and the outer lying urban areas. It's frightening to think about just how large China is going to get in 25 years, how much pollution they will create, and if they learn from our mistakes.

    So it's easy to bash on the US, which I am not saying you are doing either, but China is going to be of a progressively greater concern. Any environmental tech you see being deployed in China is something being showcased for the rest of the world. Everything is clean, everyone is bright and happy, everything is just *polished* up till it is all nice and shiny. It only represents the smallest fraction of the whole country and if you are a guest of the government, at any level, you will most likely not see the terrible stuff.

    For anybody reading this, I am NOT bashing on China either. I found the people wonderful, the food insanely good, and their country rich with culture and beauty. Just telling it like I saw it. That's it.

  • by v1 (525388) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:01AM (#24080149) Homepage Journal

    Each person consumes a minimum amount of energy to live

    You cannot "consume" energy, you can only apply it to work, store it, or change its form. (following E=MC^2 all the while) If you're cold, it's much more convenient to light up a log than run in circles awhile. That's just withdrawing some of the stored energy. It moved to your body, and will eventually be radiated/conducted out to somewhere else, but it will never be consumed. Even if we set off an atomic bomb in the middle of the ocean, that energy was not "lost", it merely changed. It changed atomic bonds to form new structures, it released heat and radiation, it moved a lot of air and water. None of that energy was lost, it just changed form and became a lot harder for us to get our hands on and put to work.

    People do use energy though, so I see where the renewable energy comment is going. The problem is people want to use readily-available energy to do their work, while investing the least amount of their own personal stored energy. That's why oil is so popular, because it's power-dense and convenient. (good margin of return) Same for burning wood.

    Renewable energy doesn't necessarily fill the void. When you can expend say, 1 unit of energy to make available 10, (by say, refining oil) the return is a lot greater. If you can spent 1 unit of your energy (and resources etc) and get back 2, it still looks good on paper but nobody wants it because that means expending more of their energy to eventually get things done, and people are lazy by nature. Unfortunately, there is no renewable energy that is going to catch up with the rate of that being withdrawn from the "easy to get at" energy stored in the earth.

    All that energy is being used very inefficiently. Only around 10% of the energy in many of our stored resources is actually applied to the work we want done. The rest is wasted doing things we don't need (or don't want) done. Take a brick of coal. Burn it to produce electricity. Use that electricity to run your air conditioner. All you've done is moved (heat) energy from one place to another, so you haven't done any work. What you have done is heated up the area outside your house a little from the compressor getting hot. So again the energy was not lost nor consumed, it just went somewhere you didn't need it to go, and can't make use of anymore. When you drive to the store and don't find what you want and return home, you and your car are back where they started, no net work was done, and all you've done is distribute some energy from your gas tank to other places.

    So one way or another that energy the sun sends us stays here on earth. Some is radiated out into space of course, but a lot less than what lands here via sunlight. So we will never "run out of energy", in fact we will always have more than we did yesterday. The problem is we WILL run out of readily available stored energy. The farther we go down that road the harder our lives will become.

    In awhile, we'll reach a point where renewable energy has a better yield than use of stored energy. We're like the bum kid living in our parents' basement. At some point we will have to move out and get a job and make a living on our own instead of relying on a free lunch. It won't be as cushy but it has to be done.

    But then at some point after that we'll have what Back To The Future called a "Mr Fusion", that can extract energy from mater. (or more likely and practical, extract energy from very low margin sources, like your garbage can) Once we can do that, renewable energy will be an afterthought because it won't be useful - we will be able to make use of all the energy that we've simply stored in a different form and been thus far unable to utilize because of its relatively low margin. It'll be a different world then. Oil fields will be replaced with old landfills. I don't know if I'll live to see it, but it WILL HAPPEN. So even renewable energy isn't "the answer", it's just a good before-dinner snack that we aren't hungry enough to eat just yet.

  • Re:no consequences (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Monday July 07, 2008 @01:18AM (#24080447) Journal

    Agreed, perfectly. It's all a question of impact. (OTOH, there's still an uphill battle of the decades of propaganda concerning nuclear waste).

    To be honest, carpeting a desert with solar panels makes zero problems for me... life there is pretty scarce at best in the best-producing areas (e.g. Death Valley), and its not like there's a mad scramble of developers who would complain.

    /P

  • by SupremoMan (912191) on Monday July 07, 2008 @02:01AM (#24080661)
    The population growth has already curbed itself in most industrialized nations. However there is another problem that arises from this. All of the current economic models are really ponzi schemes which depend on always expending populations. That is because as far as recorded history goes, human populations have always expanded. We are unprepared to deal with a shrinking population as witnessed by the alarm bells of every government with a birth rate below the magical number of 2.1%. However, merely maintaining the current population won't really do us any favors int he long run.
  • by VORNAN-20 (318139) on Monday July 07, 2008 @02:28AM (#24080797)
    There will be effects, you can't do only one thing. "These devices would be deployed in groups of 20 or even more providing cheap electricity without harming our environment." Not quite. I remember reading an article on a study that was performed in the 1980s and reported in Scientific American. The purpose of the study was to discover the effects of putting tidal power units at the entrance of the Bay of Fundy, in Nova Scotia. This bay has enormous tides, over 40 feet difference between low and high tide levels, making it a candidate for a tidal plant power. The overall environment was definitely affected, one of the big effects was that there was a "reflection" of the tide at the Bay of Fundy that affected tides in Boston, over 400 km away. Specifically tides in Boston were stronger and somewhat later in the day. The total amount of energy on the coastline was the same, of course, but distributed somewhat differently. Also see http://www.ems.psu.edu/~elsworth/courses/cause2003/finalprojects/canutepaper.pdf [psu.edu] Add in a rising sea level and things could get interesting in Beantown.
  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:42AM (#24081299) Journal
    Yes, because if a British conservative politician said it in the middle of the last century, it must be true today. Just because the first half of the quote is undeniably true, doesn't make the second part true as well.

    The evidence of the USSR and China and Vietnam show it to be true. Communism simply doesn't work. Why else would the USSR have collapsed economically, or China and Vietnam moved quickly (and continuously) towards a more free-market economy?

    Western economies in the early 21st century are more socialist than the USSR ever was in terms of wealth redistribution and state support of industry.

    Excuse me? I thought the USSR had two levels of wealth: none or all. For the US, we have a large continuum from zero to massive. But here's the big difference: in the US you can actually MOVE along that continuum. In the USSR, once a peasant always a peasant.

    State support of industry? Companies are created and fold all the time. You can invest, you can speculate, you can purchase stocks and you can choose to work and live where you want. Those are basic facts that did not exist in the USSR.

    How many private companies existed in the USSR? How many companies relocated to or from the USSR? If you didn't like the price of bread, could you go and get a license and create your own bakery and bid on wheat for your bakery?

    Now consider how many private companies exist in the the US, and how many move in and out of the US. How capital can transfer from region to region, nation to nation. How fortunes can be made or lost. How you are not guaranteed success, nor protected from failure.

    To compare the US to the USSR is unfathomable. Although I will grant you that Obama would definitely like to move us towards a much more communistic economy with nationalization of another 30% of the GDP...

    Who knows whether Leninism could work today - probably not without some radical rethinking - but green issues are making this kind of discussion more urgent, as capitalism is inherently wasteful of resources.

    Completely false. The gains we've made in productivity - meaning more output for less input - are entirely from the capitalist economies. The USSR (now Russia) and China are ecological nightmares because of communism, not because of capitalism.

    Look no further than your local farmer's market. Clearly the farmer wants to make a dollar, right? Why does the food he sells cost 2-3X as much as the produce you can buy at your local grocery store? Even when you have to ship grapes from Chile, or lettuce from California.

    The key is productivity with large farm production. In agriculture, productivity comes from climate. It is counter-productive to try to grow grapes or tomatoes en-mass in Wisconsin or Michigan. Likewise it's counter-productive to try to grow redwood trees in Arizona, or mine coal in New Mexico.

    Capitalism naturally seeks to gain the highest return on investment. That forces productivity increases; if I can turn out my widgets for 10% less than you can, or make them with features that allow me to charge 10% more than you, make a better return on investment. And that in turn will force you - if you're actually dependent upon the market, and not the Government to keep you alive - to refine your production techniques to compete and innovate.

    Green approaches - with goods, production, distribution - are inherently wasteful! Consolidation and vertical integration of markets - the eventual result of capitalism and the antithesis of the modern green/communist movement - is inherently efficient. Meaning less waste, and more output.

    Consider shipping a package from Los Angeles to New York. UPS can get it there tomorrow for $30. That is a huge, integrated company. Replace it with dozens of small local couriers spanning the nation. You'll pay 50X that price, and it'll take a week or more.

    UPS is not losing money on that shipment; they can simply do it for less because of their s

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Monday July 07, 2008 @05:22AM (#24081429) Journal
    I agree that the advent of the pill and better living standards in the west has brought a 1/3 of the world's growth to a screaching halt over the last 50-60yrs. China's has also curbed another 1/3 of the growth with the blunt instrument of government oppression. So yes, it could have been much worse (as predicted in the 70's). Dispite the collapse of fisheries in the N. Hemisphere and current downward trend in the global food/person ratio we are still far, far, better off in global food/person than we were in the early 70's (mainly due to China's rise from a famine infested hell-hole to a global super-power since the gang of four were booted out).

    I think the root of the problem is that as individuals we instictively think that a constant steady rise in the population of the tribe(s) we belong to is a GoodThing(TM). A tribe of 6+ billion is just too big for our oversized ape-brains to handle in anything but an abstract way. We are at an evolutionary cross-road where our tecnology can both create and identify global problems that our social institutions can not handle. We do have an advantage over the apes and other mammals because we can see the problems, any other mammal (or pre-industrial humans) in such a situation would suffer a rapid population crash or even extinction.
  • by BarneyL (578636) on Monday July 07, 2008 @06:23AM (#24081653)

    Now put 700 nuclear plants in the deserts of Nevada. You have enough power for everyone to live at the energy consumption level of the US.

    Not quite
    From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] US electricity consuption per capita (2005 figures) works out to 12.8 MWh/year.

    Multiply that by 6.5 billion people gives 83.2 billion MWh/year.

    The US's 103 nuclear reactors' highest ever output [planetark.org] (2004) was 788.5 million MWh.

    Put the numbers together and you find you need around 10,900 nuclear reactors working at the average output for a US nuclear power stations.
    Were every one of those stations to be the same design as the world's largest nuclear power station [leonardo-energy.org] (which actually consists of 7 operating units) you'd still need 1150 of the things to match US power consumption rates.

  • CETO better (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Eclipse-now (987359) on Monday July 07, 2008 @06:47AM (#24081735) Homepage

    If this device floats and interrupts shipping, then I'm supporting CETO's idea instead. The CETO concept also uses compressed high pressure water, but uses submerged Buoy's that just bob up and down and around, dragging the pump and forcing water onto land. The high pressure hoses combine from all the Buoy's and drive a turbine on the land. At night the system can be switched over to provide freshwater instead!

    700 Hectares would supply Sydney Australia with all its freshwater and a good chunk of its energy requirements, 2000 hectares with all its water AND energy!

    There's no interruption to shipping, no interruption visually, it improves sea-life adding an slightly 'reef' like structure below the surface, and when one considers that visual pollution is a real political problem with renewable energy, I'd be backing CETO.

    Simple Flash animations of how the system works here.
    http://www.ceto.com.au/ceto-technology/what-is-ceto.php [ceto.com.au]

    Lastly, a page I love to quote.

    The best wave energy sites in the world receive consistent swell. CETO operates across a variety of wave heights making CETO a base load renewable energy option.

            * Some other advantages of wave energy and CETO include:
            * Wave energy is a renewable, zero-emission source of power.
            * 60% of the world live within 60km (40 miles) of a coast, removing transmission issues.
            * As water is approximately 800 times denser than air, the energy density of waves vastly exceeds that of wind dramatically increasing the amount of energy available for harvesting.
            * Waves are predictable days in advance making it easy to match supply and demand. (Wind is predictable hours in advance at best.)
            * CETO sits underwater, moored to the sea floor, resulting in no aesthetic impact.
            * CETO units are designed to operate in harmony with the waves rather than attempting to resist them. This means there is no need for massive steel and concrete structures to be built.
            * CETO wave farms will have no impact on popular surfing sites as breaking waves equate to areas of energy loss. CETO wave farms will operate in water deeper than 15 metres in areas where there are no breaking waves.
            * CETO units attract marine life.
            * CETO is the only wave energy technology that produces fresh water directly from seawater by magnifying the pressure variations in ocean waves.
            * CETO contains no oils, lubricants, or offshore electrical components. CETO is built from components with a known subsea life of over 30 years.
            * Wave energy can be harnessed for permanent base load power and for fresh water desalination. The ratio of electrical generation to fresh water production can be quickly varied from 100% to 0% allowing for rapid variations in power demand.
            * CETO uses a great multiplicity of identical units each of which can be mass produced and containerised for shipping to anywhere in the world.
    http://www.ceto.com.au/ceto-technology/advantages.php [ceto.com.au]

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday July 07, 2008 @08:27AM (#24082233) Homepage Journal

    Do we cause massive upheaval that likes of which the most radical Global Warming people do not even think of with massive wind farms?

    Please justify this statement.

    Solar isn't able to meet our energy needs so it's not an option

    Solar is like electric cars, it can only meet 99% of our needs.

    Solar produces peak power when it is needed most and modern solar panels work on cloudy days. PV panels paid back their energy investment in under 7 years 30 years ago. You are either shilling or being stupid.

    You can list all the problems with CO2 and I agree, but outside of nuclear it is the smallest footprint out there that can meet our energy needs.

    CO2 is not an energy source, it's a byproduct of using a wrong-headed energy storage medium - crude oil, which is ALSO not an energy source.

    Nuclear would do quite well but it politically is the hardest of them all to get

    Nuclear is indeed my choice for filling in where solar and wind cannot. (I am against hydro OR geothermal as it is used today - anything but heat pipes is just a big mistake and hydro is never good except on a VERY small scale.) However I support it ONLY with breeder reactors to reprocess fuel. Today Nuclear is a boondoggle.

    Just caring about reducing CO2 is like stopping your Cocaine habit by taking Heroine - not only did you not actually solve anything but you made the whole situation worse.

    I'll take any Heroine I can get. Heroin, on the other hand, I stay away from.

    As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

    That's not what's going on here. Right now, I've got my lunch, and you're talking shit about it for no reason, when indeed my lunch would be a good lunch for you, too.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Monday July 07, 2008 @10:06AM (#24083293) Journal
    The movie plot remark reminded me of a comment by a scientists on TV the other day, he said something like: This report [csiro.au] reads like a horror story. For the non-Aussies, the Murry Darling Basin is Australia's bread basket, it covers a large portion of the SE quarter of the continent and according to the most respected scientific body in Australia, it is dying. We are the world's fourth largest exporter of grain but since 1998 there has been only one bumper crop, most years have been down by 40-60%.

    The main problem is that the water has been over-used and mismanaged but the region is also becoming drier and they have found that a 10% drop in rainfall converts to a 30% drop in run-off (ie: 30% less water in the system). We have had some periods of good rain but mainly it has been either in the wrong place, at the wrong time, or all at once (as in record breaking floods), many places have now been in severe drought for over a decade. Looking at the news about California it seems to be having similar problems with "fire and water" but that's just the impression I get from news reports. Water rationing [melbournewater.com.au] is the norm now in Australia's major cities.

    Not that I agree with the GP's musings but all wars are resource wars.
  • by Beezlebub33 (1220368) on Monday July 07, 2008 @10:40AM (#24083641)

    Now take the fresh water outflow of the Columbia river - the river separating Washington from Oregon. You've got 27 gallons of fresh water per person per day.

    27 gallons? that is way, way off.

    An estimate for water usage in the U.S. is 408 billion gallons per day. http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/2004/circ1268/index.html [usgs.gov]. That's over 1000 gallons per person. Yes, we use too much, and waste a lot of it. But, there is a limit to how much less we can use; in particular, look at the usage for generating energy, which you propose to generate using nuclear power, which requires a lot of water.

    Further, water is unevenly distributed, and does not travel in the direction you want it to easily. Already, much of the world does not have access to save drinking water, and it's going to get worse. We're depleting the ground water, and sucking the rivers dry as it is.

    Yes, relative to water supplies, we have overpopulation. Spouting crap about poor distribution of people isn't going to solve it; people don't move easily and the water isn't there and doesn't move easily. Free and expanded trade won't work either.

    The solution is to level off the population and then slowly reduce it. It has happened in other countries (including poor ones) and, with a little bit of effort, education (esp. of women), and contraceptive rights, can happen pretty much everywhere. And, no, it doesn't requires a China-like draconian imposition of one child policy.

  • Re:Baby got back (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:14PM (#24088539) Homepage Journal

    Actually, lots (perhaps all) of the sea currents have had their energies cranked up by the Greenhouse effect. Huge rivers of currents have been shoved away from their past courses, driven into more twists and turns, becoming more energetic as energy is stored in them. That energy also comes out, and contributes to effects like El Nino and other storm generation, like heated surfaces that encourage hurricane formation.

    Taking energy out of those currents could be a double benefit. Getting the energy instead of burning more petrofuels (which makes the currents twistier), and damping the currents which have their own destructive power.

    We need research to show the energy system effects of damping those currents' energetic flows. But such research is a lot more conclusive, because it can measure downstream some finite mechanics, rather than the global and subtle feedback effects of other energy systems.

    Like any other energy "source" we've ever used, or likely will ever use, an "Anaconda" system won't be the only way we tap energy for use. But you've got to consider what an Anaconda-type generator would replace, and the comparative impacts of each. How much damage does a 100MW gas, oil or coal plant produce, compared to 100 Anacondas? Building, maintaining, fueling and cleaning up after the petrofuel plants is pretty messy, compared to the Anacondas. Especially after the Anaconda is first installed, as its energy-bearing material (the currents) is naturally replenished without waste or cost, compared to the long fuel lines for the furnaces.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday July 07, 2008 @04:36PM (#24088947) Journal

    And don't event start with the "nuclear waste" blather because nuclear power can safely generate enough energy to make chemicals to launch all waste into the sun and have all the energy we'll need left over!

    Or we could do something smart and bury it in an area where it'll sink into the mantle. There's spots where anything more than 10 miles down slowly sinks and in about 5 years falls below the crust of the earth; melted nuclear waste is heavy, it sinks. It's no longer a problem at that point.

    Expelling high energy matter into space is a bad idea, we lose the thermal energy from this planet that way, and thus local sustainability goes down.

Hacking's just another word for nothing left to kludge.

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