Monday, November 8, 2010

Tidal Energy Is Making Important Strides

It is quickly becoming clear that big battles are rapidly approaching on the political horizon, and I am going to do my best to cover these events as thoroughly as I possibly can. However, I won’t be getting to those things until tomorrow because I still need time to wrap my head around the numerous issues that are popping up.

Right now I’m going to talk about a notable event in the world of alternative energy. While the alternative energy marketplace is dominated by news about wind and solar developments, today marks the day that a shallow-water tidal energy system in the UK has been successfully tested and proven.

*Yes. I made that comparison just so I could post this picture from one of the best South Park episodes ever.

While the media views tidal energy as the red headed stepchild* of the alternative energy community, it is important that this technology is still being researched and developed. This is because at the end of the day, no matter how well wind and solar are performing, they are subject to their natural limitations:

  • Wind
    • Produces the most energy at night
    • Windiest in remote areas leading to transmission issues
    • Subject to pressure systems
  • Solar
    • Only producing energy during the day
    • Subject to cloud cover
    • Not as effective in the further Northern and Southern Hemispheres

The point of listing these limitations isn’t to suggest that these technologies are inefficient in addressing our energy needs. Instead, it is to show that it will take a collaborative effort between multiple technologies in order to make clean energy work. This is why the further development of tidal energy is wonderful and necessary because it can help lessen the burden on wind and solar technologies.

Obviously tidal energy is only really useful where there are tides (“Thanks, Professor!”), but when coasts contain some of the most densely populated cities and ports; tidal energy makes sense. By combining tidal energy with offshore wind farms, clean energy stands to make a large dent in the energy consumption of these areas.

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