Tidal power: Energy's wave of the future?
While marine and hydrokinetic energy may be quite literally the wave of the future, its moment may be beyond the current horizon, Graeber writes. That said, it's predictable, it's easy to get to, and some of the world's most densely populated areas are coastal communities, which means it's cheap to connect to the grid.
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Last week, the Obama administration announced it was throwing $16 million into 17 different projects meant to find a way to capture energy from waves, tides and currents cheaper and more efficiently. The U.S. may be a bit behind in the game but the Energy Department said it viewed wave and tidal energy as a "large, untapped resource" for renewable energy.Skip to next paragraph
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To fend off advocacy early birds tired of the tried and true fracking protests, the Energy Department said it was funding university research projects meant to examine everything from the impacts hydrokinetic devices have on fish species to how killer whales respond to the sounds produced by underwater turbines. The bulk of the spending, however, was on research and development meant to make marine power a better utility. That means proving it's worth it to private investors. (Related article: Amid Rising Global Interest in Renewable Energy, Tidal Power to Surge?)
Remember that Pelamis wave system? While Solyndra was going under, a British report in 2011 found the country's marine energy sector might be worth as much as $118 billion, yes billion, and support more than 65,000 jobs by 2050. In the states, meanwhile, shares in Forest Oil Corp. dipped more than 3 percent after it announced the sale of 58,000 acres of shale in the Permian Basin of West Texas. Remember natural gas darling Chesapeake Energy? It's been hemorrhaging assets to help pay off its debt.
While marine and hydrokinetic energy may be quite literally the wave of the future, its moment may be beyond the current horizon. That said, it's predictable, it's easy to get to, and some of the world's most densely populated areas are coastal communities, which means it's cheap to connect to the grid. But it's in the future. If we use the post-Solyndra success of SunPower as a standard, however, high tide for marine energy may be rolling in.
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