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Power Hardware

Re-Purposing the Netherlands' Dike System For Power Generation 132

Posted by timothy
from the let's-go-dutch dept.
vikingpower writes "Built in reaction to a major flood that killed 1,800 in the '50s, the Dutch system of dikes, sluices, surge barriers, and dams has been dubbed 'one of the seven wonders of the modern world' by the American Society of Engineers. Now there are proposals to use the system differently, e.g. as tidal power plants, by punching holes in them. Any civil engineer's mouth will probably be watering when thinking of the mega-projects this could give rise to."
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Re-Purposing the Netherlands' Dike System For Power Generation

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  • Re:Great idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2010 @04:06AM (#31965698)

    The parent poster does have a point. The article itself even refers (quite vaguely) to the effects this system of dams, sluices, etc. is having on the environment. It's a severe disruption of how things *should* be, resulting in stagnating water, algae blooms, floods, and, in general, killing off the natural ecosystem inherent to lakes, seas and rivers.

  • Re:Dear Editor (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2010 @05:39AM (#31965978)

    For those of us that don't speak American there is no such word as dike - only dyke for both meanings.

  • Re:Dear Editor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Saturday April 24, 2010 @05:51AM (#31966008) Homepage Journal

    The word is dyke in dutch (well, more or less) and in its closest english speaking neighbour.

    Try learn about the rest of the world before making yourself sound like an myopic, "World Series" looking idiot.

  • Re:Dear Editor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Paul Jakma (2677) <paul+slashdot@jakma.org> on Saturday April 24, 2010 @06:24AM (#31966122) Homepage Journal

    Are you really unaware that there are variants of english out there other than US english?

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Saturday April 24, 2010 @10:39AM (#31967330)

    The Earth has 361,132,000 km^2 of water.
    The Sahara is over 9,000,000 km^2

    So, if we want to drop the sea level by a foot, we need to siphon off 110,073.034 km^3. To do that, we need to lower the entire Sahara to 12.2 meters below sea level. Probably 12.5 meters to get the sea to fall that extra foot.

    Good idea, but where exactly are we going to put those 110,000 km^3 of material? We can't dump it into the ocean for obvious reasons. Also, those 110,000 km^3 are just the stuff you need do dig away, once we've made the entire Sahara flat and given it a height of 0 meters.

    Every meter of average height of the desert, adds another 9,000 km^3 of material to haul away.

    To put that into perspective - if we build an equilateral square pyramid with a volume of 110,000 km^3, its surface area would be 77 km on each side (6,016 km^2) and would be 54,848 meters tall.

    Sure, it might lower the sea level by a foot, and it would certainly keep a lot people employed for the foreseeable future, and I suppose a 54,848 meter tall pyramid on the equator would make for a great launch pad into space ... but at the same time I don't see that any government or company would ever want to sponsor this kind of project.

    Oh, and just for kicks. Suppose we only wanted to move this mountain of material one meter. How much energy would be required? Assuming that instead of a mix of sand and bed rock it's actually water, we now have to move 1.1 × 10^17 kg 1 meter. This works out as 1.08 exa-joules. In 2008 the entire world used 474 exa joules. Even if we used all the the energy avaialble to us in 2008, we could only move this mass less than half a kilometer.

    So ... in theory it might be possible to do this, but it's also theoretically possible to dig a tunnel all the way through the Earth. But the practicalities of both of these ideas are quite bitchy.

  • Re:Great idea (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2010 @12:03PM (#31967870)

    Do you even know enough to substantiate your claims? I suggest you start by calculating the amount of energy present in the motion of air around the globe, then determine what fraction of that windmills remove. It's likely less than 1% by a good margin. It's not going to have a real effect.

  • Re:Great idea (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 24, 2010 @08:39PM (#31970856)

    While I doubt wind-turbines could have a significant effect on the level of total global wind energy (and I'm not sure they'd make a lot of difference at a local level either), even if they did, a consequence of global warming is an increased amount of energy in the weather system (i.e. more wind and storms, etc.) taking a bit of the extra energy back is not going to be harmful and in fact would be a good thing.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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