Sunday, 10 June 2012

Spotlight Under the Sea

Spotlight Under the Sea - The European Marine Energy Centre

Regular readers of this blog have probably gathered by now that I am in favour of promoting and extending the use of technology for the generation of green renewable electricity. Whatever method is used to this end, and there is a wide variety, probably the wind turbine, especially the land based wind turbine, or collectively, when set up in arrays, the wind farm, is probably the most controversial.

On the one hand, they are seen as unsightly, they are uneconomical to manufacture, locate, and maintain, plus the wind isn't always guaranteed to blow whenever required to do so. Like all such technology though, it improves over time, plus the alternatives, like coal or gas fired power stations, use finite resources, and dirty sources of fuel, and nuclear power stations, so incredibly expensive to build, offer horrendous possibilities of decimating vast areas of land were an accident of man or an unexpected feat of nature were to occur, plus there is always the elephant in the room question of what do you do with the waste.

I believe though that the wind turbine is here to stay, at least for a while. Already we are seeing land based wind farms, joined by off-shore wind farms, and technology is being continually tweaked, adapted, and improved that soon we will have deep sea off-shore wind farms based so far out to sea, that they will have no visually impairing effect to anyone walking or driving along the coast.

There are other methods of producing green environmentally friendly electricity though, and it is particularly pleasing to note that the European Marine Energy Centre, based in Orkney is leading the way in the development of marine-based renewable energy.

What they do? - "EMEC is at the forefront of the development of marine-based renewable energy - technologies that generate electricity by harnessing the power of waves and tidal streams."

How they do it? - "EMEC provides the worlds only multi-berth, purpose-built, open sea test facilities for wave and tidal marine energy converters."

Where is it? - "Orkney was chosen because of its natural and manmade resources. The wave test site receives uninterrupted Atlantic waves of up to 15m. At the Eday site, tidal streams run at up to 4m/sec (8kn) and are among the fastest in Europe. Orkney is also the most northerly community connected to the UK national grid, has excellent harbour facilities and a significant professional community experienced in working with renewable energy."

There is real and positive research going on here, and over time, from the abundance of innovative designs and installations undergoing tests, and being constantly monitored, adapted, improved, and proven to be either effective or not, some real breakthroughs will emerge, in the positive way that the creation of power, green renewable, environmentally friendly power, can be generated.

The wind turbine may not please everyone, the out of sight, under the sea, methods of power generation may be more appealing, but whatever method will finally come to the forefront, all methods being tried and tested at the moment, are part of the journey to get to that forefront. They are all important. The European Marine Energy Centre is a vital part of this process.