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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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  • '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.'

    and called the anaconda?

    i don't know if this scheme will work, but hands down, that is the most sexual innuendo i've heard in an energy generation scheme in a long time

    • by Anonymous Coward

      and called the anaconda?

      My anaconda don't want none
      Unless you've got buns, hon

      • Thank God someone finally gave Sir Mix-a-Lot [wikipedia.org] the long overdue credit he richly deserves as a true environmentalist, humanitarian, and supporter of renewable bun energy extraction technologies. It's about time we broke the oil cartels' blockage on innovation and hooked up generators to all those pulsating rumps!

        I say, let them do all the side bends and situps they want, since the calories expending in diminishing that rump will surely guide us into a new era of plentiful energy for all.
    • My anaconda don't want none unless you got long sea waves, hun. Baby got turbines!
    • by reporter (666905) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:43PM (#24079231) Homepage
      In the long run, the only readily available sources of energy are renewable sources: solar energy and terrestrial energy (e.g., wind and waves). Each person consumes a minimum amount of energy to live, and the aggregate amount consumed by the entire population cannot exceed some fraction of total renewable energy. The reason for the fraction is that no conversion process (for, say, transforming solar energy into electrical energy) is 100% efficient. (A while ago, some genius in the SlashDot forums gave an explicit number for the "fraction".)

      Right now, the sky-high price for oil is useful in reminding us that there are limits to our resources. If we do not make a conscientious effort to control population growth, then nature will impose a solution on us. That solution will be poverty and likely starvation. If you doubt what I say, consider the huge amounts of energy that is needed to grow and to transport food.

      Right now, I suspect that our population is unsustainably large due to the fact that we still have plentiful supplies of non-renewable sources (e.g., oil and uranium). So, our energy consumption = (1) usuable energy from non-renewable sources + (2) usuable energy from renewable sources. After #1 is depleted by roughly 2100 (?), a global world war for resources will dwarf the calamity of World War II. (By the way, we will deplete our mineral resources like copper and iron ore long before we deplete our non-renewable sources of energy.)

      Will humankind wake up to the problem of overpopulation? In the USA, political correctness prevents us from dealing with the problem. The American mantra is that (1) expanding the population is always wonderful and (2) expanding the population by immigration is the best route.

      • just go nuclear and conserve

        going nuclear should give us enough time to figure out fusion. and if we don't, it's curtains

        but renewables: geothermal, wind, tidal, etc... it's all tiny fractions of demand

        except for solar. but that's a huge infrastructure outlay

        nuclear is the best option before us to kick our hydrocarbon habit

        • by Keeper Of Keys (928206) on Monday July 07, 2008 @03:29AM (#24081043) Homepage

          Going nuclear would probably also help deal with that pesky overpopulation problem the GP was going on about.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bkr1_2k (237627)

          I've said it before and I'll say it again; why pick one? The best solution is a combined solution in a small footprint. Each home providing some portion of it's own power through solar, wind, geothermal, or some combination of them all.

          Doing it that way won't require any huge infrastructure, it will drastically reduce hydrocarbon dependence, and it will reduce costs drastically on any one of the technologies listed.

        • by Doc Ruby (173196)

          On top of all the other problems with nukes (like dirty extraction that's dependent on an even tinier resource that's in even more unstable countries than oil is), we are now likely facing the rapid exhaustion of elements like indium and hafnium that are necessary for reactor control rods.

          Nukes are a hugely top-heavy tech. That produce a huge problem in their waste, as well as extremely difficult security problems.

          Geothermal is vastly more energy than even all the nukes we could produce. Other renewables ca

      • by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:14PM (#24079467)
        Where "long run" means a thousand years, yes. Why are we looking that far forward anyway? Whaats the point about saying we have too many people while new methods of energy generation are constantly being built?

        While solar power in all forms is the only thing we know has a high probability of being around in a billion years, nuclear power will last us, at the least, 300 years. Even the pessimists can agree that we'll have nuclear fusion within 200 years. So thats it! nuclear fusion until nuclear fission is sorted out. All of man's energy needs in a simple two step plan!

        poverty! global war! starvation! calamity! our population is unsustainable!

        will you please stop mongering fear and get realistic!? 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!
        • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:39PM (#24079641) Homepage

          enough energy to make chemicals to launch all waste into the sun and have all the energy we'll need left over!

          Will you please stop with this "nuclear waste" blather? "Nuclear waste" is just "nuclear fuel that we're too lame to recycle yet".

          • by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Monday July 07, 2008 @01:00AM (#24080403)

            It would take a huge investment in infrastructure to be able to "use up" nuclear material to the state where it is reasonably harmless to life. By comparison, increasing renewable energy generation can be done in a fairly incremental fashion (and can be moved & removed in a fairly incremental fashion as well).

            Also, "nuclear waste" doesn't just include the nuclear fuel. It also includes everything which comes in contact with that nuclear fuel & all of ways that it is processed (like the containers used to store/transport the fuel, the reactor walls, the control rod mechanisms, etc). Almost all that material can't be safely used once it has become contaminated, the stuff that it is contaminated with can't be easily extracted for use as fuel, and it is all still hazardous to life.

            I'm not saying that nuclear isn't theoretically a great source of energy, but you're seriously downplaying some of its disadvantages.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bluefoxlucid (723572)

          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.

      • 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 Falconhell (1289630) on Monday July 07, 2008 @01:04AM (#24080417) Journal

          Oh I dont know, I seem to find the US population extremely dense, I mean they voted for Bush.....

        • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Monday July 07, 2008 @01:49AM (#24080609) Journal

          I'd say that most likely, we're best off pursuing fusion power...

          Hear hear. I doubt if we'll get the power density we need in the long run with anything less. Nothing like good ol' Mother Nature at her best.

          In the mean time, there will be a large and diverse effort to lessen the dependency on imported sweet crude, most likely depending on what you have available -- wave power for the North Sea, perhaps, broad acreage solar here in Australia, manufactured fuels from coal, nuclear-manufactured ammonia chemistry and similar sources elsewhere. Stopgap solutions until then will need to match the local geography, physical and political climate. They'll probably all be represented.

          In addition we'll need to exploit any energy differential we can tap as well, such as wave motion, any sort of temperature differential such as geothermal, oceanic wells, etc. Any place that's much colder or warmer than another place nearby is a candidate for a Stirling engine to tap into it.

          On top of that, we'll simply need to throw less energy away, and we're all working on that.

          By the time we run out of all the energy available to us, we'll all be somewhere else and the sun will be a brown dwarf surrounded by a photo opportunity.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by arstchnca (887141)
          Perhaps the population density in the US is low because, for one, its borders include in part huge tracts of land that anyone has yet to put a real use to? The fact is, it is functional population density that is important. Do you think that everyone lives around cities because they just love other people?

          In the game of capitalism, money is your score. This is unfortunate. As such, it's necessary for one to come by money, a metaphor for one's own worth, by some means in order to survive. As hard as
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by celtic_hackr (579828)

          While fusion is great, it shouldn't be our only goal. This is still a non-renewable fuel. Hydrogen is an important ingredient to life, use up all the hydrogen and everything will die.

          Also, fission produces some terrible byproducts with effectively infinite lifetimes. One really bad accident could destroy the entire planet. One failed rocket exploding in the atmosphere and we all die. So blasting the waste into the Sun isn't the miraculous cure-all supporters claim. Reprocessing has proven to be not "cost-ef

      • by HeroreV (869368)

        After #1 is depleted by roughly 2100 (?), a global world war for resources will dwarf the calamity of World War II.

        Sounds more like the plot for a bad movie than a realistic expectation of future events.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TapeCutter (624760) *
          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
      • 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 Kreigaffe (765218) on Monday July 07, 2008 @01:40AM (#24080571)

          Zimbabwe's a particularly good example; they once had a fairly decent country. Grew enough food for themselves and enough to export to other starving African countries.

          Let's solve that, seize all the farms, hand them to people who don't know a damned thing about farming or owning a business, let them rip up the irrigation and sell it as scrap metal and boom! you've got a few people making a lot of money, one time, rather than a good bit year by year, and instead of a fed populous exporting food you've got a starving populous begging to import food.

          I'd wager that Zimbabwe ALONE is more responsible for increased demand on global food supplies than biofuels.. so stop cryin about *that*.

        • by mcrbids (148650) on Monday July 07, 2008 @01:43AM (#24080585) Journal

          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.

          I see. Political Science... isn't?

          And if you think that moving everybody to Texas and getting the water from Oregon down to Texas and building 700 nukular power plants is a POLITICAL problem, you have a gross misestimation of reality.

          Yes, politics plays a key role in wealth inequity, but this is also a severe issue of engineering and resource management.

          Yes, in a purely mathematical world, you could move everybody to Texas, and water then with just the water from XYZ river. But how do you distribute those 26 gallons of water per day? Can you imagine how much plumbing and energy it would take to distribute that kind of water? How many millions of miles of piping to lay?

          How many trees it would take to build those kinds of houses, roads to transport the trees, mills to process the trees...

          That's the problem with overly simplistic models that simply divide the number of people by XYZ (usually Texas) and figure that's the problem.

          The truth is that if you were born in the United States, you inherited almost a MILLION DOLLARS of wealth at current market value in public infrastructure: roads, power lines, schools, libraries, police buildings, fire equipment, telecommunications capabilities, rail lines, and so on, all of which give you the ability to do some small piece and earn (on average) about 7% on your public "net worth" as personal income.

          That's how come it's so much harder to become wealthy in the 3rd world - the infrastructure needed to support the widespread creation of wealth simply doesn't exist.

          I digress.

          So you have a city with a population density that at least compares to most cities, the size of Texas. Can you imagine what the quality of life would be like near Killeen? (the middle)

          People live where the resources are available, where distribution is cheap to free, where the quality of life is something to enjoy. I like being able to walk through a park that isn't packed every 10 feet with another person. The feeling of isolation, the curiosity at watching a water snake swim.

          I agree with your general conclusion, that the problem is largely political, and that the 3rd world could become much happier with effective leadership. But I don't like that you use such overly simplistic models to support your conclusion!

        • 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.

      • by twiddlingbits (707452) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:27PM (#24079913)
        over-rated and incomplete..I'd mod you down. Fusion is limitless energy and it's renewable as long as we have water (i.e. clouds, rain, oceans, rivers, lakes). Biofuels are renewable but not 100% as you lose some to seed. Just use all your cropland on biofuels and people starve so you have less population! Population problem solved! PC and population growth in the USA? Abortion is legal, birth control is practiced and family size is smaller. A lot of people will disagree with expanding by immigration being the best route, and it's certainly NOT an official policy. We have more illegal immigrants than legal immigrants! Go play the old computer game where you are the Pharoh and have limited resources to keep your nation happy and growing. That will give you some insights into how hard it is to balance everything.
      • by smussman (1160103) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:34PM (#24079963)

        In the long run, the only readily available sources of energy are renewable sources: solar energy and terrestrial energy (e.g., wind and waves).

        Almost all of the energy we use comes from the sun, with nuclear and geothermal being (the) exceptions. The main difference is whether we're using the energy as the sun is producing it (wind, wave, solar) or we're using energy that's been stored from previous eons of sunlight (coal, oil). So I agree with what you're saying insofar as we shouldn't be using more energy than the sun is giving us right now, and we should strive to make that come from the current energy output rather than stored output.

        Right now, the sky-high price for oil is useful in reminding us that there are limits to our resources.

        (By the way, we will deplete our mineral resources like copper and iron ore long before we deplete our non-renewable sources of energy.)

        But I'm going to have to disagree with you here. We will never actually run out of copper or iron or oil. As the amount of these resources that is naturally occurring decreases, the price will rise to the point that: (A) It becomes cost-efficent to dig through landfills and recycle previously used resources, and (B) other materials that were previously too expensive for the application will now be cost-effective.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by v1 (525388)

        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 ene

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) * on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:38PM (#24078793) Homepage
    And has a fairly small footprint for a 20 Megawatt solution - might be a good fit for small to moderate coastal towns.

    I just want to see the boat captain who wanders unknowingly into a field of these things at night. Snakes on a boat!
    • by nfk (570056) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:09PM (#24079023)
      Well, if the boat captain finds himself at 40 to 100 meters depth, he has other things to worry about.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by JanneM (7445)

        "Well, if the boat captain finds himself at 40 to 100 meters depth, he has other things to worry about."

        Snakes on a Submarine! Extended, Elongated Edition! Immensely Increased Inadvertent Innuendo! Alliterations Aplenty!! With a Thousand Elephants!!!

      • trawlers (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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,

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Better yet, just don't trawl. It is a disaster for the seabed, the coastal shelf equivalent of clearcutting forests.
  • by jeiler (1106393) <go,bugger,off&gmail,com> on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:38PM (#24078795) Journal
    I didn't see anything in TFA, but one wonders if they've considered sediment buildup around the device. Do they have some way to keep sand/sediment from burying the machine?
  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zappepcs (820751) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:40PM (#24078809) Journal

    I saw this yesterday, and using nature to generate energy is absolutely right. Think outside the paradigm, generate energy everywhere, use less of it everywhere... this is the solution, no single answer will work, it takes all efforts and answers. Anywhere the universe creates energy, we should be able to harness and use it. This is the grail, holy or not, energy for nothing.... or close to that.

    • by giminy (94188)

      This is the grail, holy or not, energy for nothing.... or close to that.

      Except that this will cause extra megawatts of tidal drag on the earth from the moon, slowing our rotation more quickly, lengthening our days more quickly, and quite possibly contributing to global climate change in a slightly different way than the one that we are used to thinking about.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm all for alternative energy like this (even tidal). It'll likely help more than it hurts. Everything has a price, though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anpheus (908711)

        Yeah, uhm, listen. You moving around causes a slight drag on the moon. The incredibly minute change in distribution of the Earth's mass thanks to civilization has changed the orbit of the moon. Sending satellites and people into space has altered the rate of rotation of the Earth.

        And yet, she still moves and we're all ok.

        You've obviously never run the numbers on how many waves we'd have to stop, how much mass we'd have to move in order to affect the Earth or the Moon in a detrimental way.

      • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @11:47PM (#24080041) Journal
        Don't forget we're slowing the moon's orbit around the Earth which inevitably will lead to the moon falling into the Earth.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:43PM (#24078837)

    motherfucking snake generators on the motherfucking grid!

  • Better description (Score:3, Informative)

    by grimJester (890090) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:46PM (#24078859)
    here [wipo.int]

    Sounds like it's not snake oil on the surface, but I have no real knowledge of the field.
  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:55PM (#24078915)
    These devices would be deployed in groups of 20 or even more providing cheap electricity without harming our environment."

    I think this underestimates the ability of someone, somewhere being able to find a problem with anything. Hydropower dams wild rivers. Windmills smack birds out of the air. Photovoltaics pave over entire deserts. Probably Anacondas will interfere with the lifecycle of some species or other. One day we'll realize that any energy system is going to have some ill effects and say, "Intercourse the penguins, I need to microwave my popcorn."
    • by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:32PM (#24079181) Homepage

      Windmills smack birds out of the air.

      To be fair, a glass-faced office building will kill far more birds than a windmill.

      The "smacking birds out of the air" is due to birds flying into the windmills as if they were a stationary object. The blades don't spin nearly fast enough to do any "smacking."

      Actually putting a number on the rate of bird deaths is somewhat controversial, as its fairly difficult to count them, given that it happens so infrequently.

      • by Repton (60818) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:00PM (#24079363) Homepage

        "Actually putting a number on the rate of bird deaths is somewhat controversial, as its fairly difficult to count them, given that it happens so infrequently."

        Clearly, we must build more wind farms so that we can gather more accurate data!

      • GP's point wasn't about the birds, it was about the fact that no matter WHAT we do someone will complain:

        I think this underestimates the ability of someone, somewhere being able to find a problem with anything.

        As you pointed out most of those complaints from environmental groups are spurious at best.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TapeCutter (624760) *
          "GP's point wasn't about the birds,...."

          The only people still talking about windmills and birds are the misinformed, some of them may be environmentalists but the last windfarm to be scraped "due to birds" was here in Australia. The anti-environment minister [theage.com.au] who canned the project was from a conservative right-wing govermnent (note the Liberal party are not liberals). The environmental impact report did not back up his claims about birds and there was not a single protester in sight.

          "...it was about t
      • by wsanders (114993)

        This is simply not true. 1700 to 4700 birds die in the windmill farm in Alameda County near the Altamont Pass. Now, that's a ridiculously vague number, there are hundreds of windmills at that site, and it includes electrocutions, but that is not "infrequently". Enough that NIMBY ecos and politicans have placed a moratorium on commerical wind power in the county.

        The state of the art is to make the windmills as large as possible - huge windmills turn more slowly and have economies of scale. Lot sof the Altamo

        • by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:35PM (#24079621) Homepage

          1700 to 4700 birds die in the windmill farm in Alameda County near the Altamont Pass. Now, that's a ridiculously vague number

          Altamont pass has over 4900 windmills. Even on the upper-end of that estimate, it's less than one per year. That's fairly "infrequent"

          Also, you're right that the estimate is "ridiculously vague". You can't draw conclusions based on data with a 50% margin of error. If you're getting that kind of error, there's something seriously wrong with your data.

      • by Animats (122034) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:22AM (#24080247) Homepage

        Windmills smack birds out of the air. ... The "smacking birds out of the air" is due to birds flying into the windmills as if they were a stationary object. The blades don't spin nearly fast enough to do any "smacking."

        Actually, they do. Blade tip speeds for big wind machines are upwards of 100 MPH.

        The Altamont Pass wind farm is especially bad [biologicaldiversity.org], because it's in a narrow valley on a major bird migration route, a valley full of row after row of relatively small windmills close to the ground. It's a meat-grinder for birds.

        Reasonably accurate bird death numbers [biologicaldiversity.org] for the larger birds are available for Altamont Pass. Currently about a thousand big raptors a year, including over 100 golden eagles, are lost to the blades.

        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday July 07, 2008 @09:56AM (#24083159) Homepage

          Yeah, and the deadliest wind farm with all these disadvantages -- not the least of which being the old windmill designs which use scaffolding-like towers which birds find nice for perching and nesting as opposed to the single-pole towers used in new windmills -- kills at most about one raptor per windmill per year.

          All Altamont Pass shows is that, like pretty much everything else, wind power can be done badly. And even then, in the deadliest wind farm anywhere, it's far, far better than if you'd stuck a three story office building into the pass instead.

          Taller towers, towers that can't be perched or nested on, bigger, slower blades that are easier for birds to see and avoid, and then some cursory studies of bird migrations just to make sure you aren't going to be experiencing unusual amounts of traffic, and bird deaths are essentially trivial.

  • providing cheap electricity without harming our environment.

    Because, you know, 20 or more 100x7 meter tubes would have absolutely no conceivable effect on marine wildlife in the area.

    • Depends on where you put them. If they're parked along the Oregon or Northern California Coast (where whales, sea lions, and etc live and thrive), then yeah, it'll be a bother. But if you park them where there's minimal impact (say, off the coast of New York City), or you space them out enough to not pose a hazard, no problem.

      Besides, it's a question of how much damage. Potentially disturbing the patterns of some wildlife here or there (without killing them off, obviously) is a helluva lot more responsible

  • by BCW2 (168187)
    When the enviroflakes find out sea critters might get sliced and diced in the turbines, this will go the same way as wind generators because of birds. It will take an extra 5 years and countless wasted lawyer dollars to get a permit.
    • Are the turbine blades open to the sea? I thought one of the challenges of tidal power was to get a working, sealed unit because seawater corrosion (not to mention sealife attachment) is such a problem.

  • by imstanny (722685) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:00PM (#24078945)
    There are about 30+ companies that exist, which capture 'wave' power. Two to come to mind are Ocean Power Technologies & Blue Energy, though to me, Blue Energy's method seems more efficient since it uses predictable current, rather than waves, to generate power.
  • Because MY anaconda don't want none unless you've got buns hon.

  • More Energy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:45PM (#24079253) Homepage

    Sure, CO2 from generating electricty might be a problem. But no matter how you slice it, using energy contributes to climate change in various ways.

    If you believe that humans are causing the climate to change, the answer is fewer humans. Lots fewer. You can argue that before 1850 humans (all 50 million or so of them) had negligible effects on the climate. After that, well there has been an effect.
    Continued growth of human population is going to be having a greater and greater effect. There is no getting away from it.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by styrotech (136124)

          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.

          Yeah you're correct, but nearly all of that activity in China is to feed the wests appetite for cheap stuff. We've just outsourced (some or most of) our own environmental damage to China.

          The west has been more than happ

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TrekkieGod (627867)

        Or the answer could be that each human should have less impact.

        Not really. Every human being has a minimum impact on the environment to survive, so at some point we're going to reach an equilibrium. The question is where to place the equilibrium. You might want us all to cut back on energy usage right now, but as population grows further, we'll all have to cut back back on energy usage even more just to maintain the same level.

        Personally, I'd rather have 50 people on the entire planet that all live like kings than 50 billion with the standard of living equivalent to

  • by ChrisCampbell47 (181542) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:13PM (#24079451)
    The July issue of IEEE Spectrum (hitting mailboxes in the last couple days) has an article about this, with a really cool picture.

    Ocean Power Catches a Wave [ieee.org]

    "The first commercial ocean energy project is scheduled to launch this summer off the coast of Portugal. Three snakelike wave-power generators built by Edinburgh's Pelamis Wave Power will deliver 2.25 megawatts through an undersea cable to the Portuguese coastal town of Aguçadoura. Within a year, another 28 generators should come online there, boosting the capacity to 22.5 MW. That may be a trickle of power, but the project represents a new push into wave and tidal power as governments eye the oceans as a way to meet their renewable energy targets."

  • 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?

  • I wonder how many joyriders would try sailing right through these things? They'd probably do quite well too, until they hit the turbine that is...

  • by unity100 (970058) on Monday July 07, 2008 @12:07AM (#24080175) Homepage Journal
    Discovery channel have been showing those stuff in live usage out the coast of scotland for 2-2.5 years now.

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