Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Reality could awaken old wave power technology

Sea wavesEither my opponents are getting tired, or have just decided I am some sort of nut (took them long enough), but I seem to be collecting less flak as time goes on and I continue to peddle my pet theory that wind power was little more than a handy cash cow in the early day of renewables. Unlike wave or tidal power systems, all the prospective wind power developer had to do was hijack some nice land where the numbers could be stacked to show potential, and a fairly standard box of wind turbine parts could be despatched and assembled to merit payment of a handy subsidy, more commonly referred to as Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC), or RO in Scotland.

This is generally misinterpreted as my suggesting that there was something untoward, or even fraudulent, in this process, but all I really intend to do by pointing out the blindingly obvious is that the easy route was taken, and the more difficult, but effective, road to wave or tidal power was bypassed. The subsidy was always available to any form of renewable power generation, the thing was that the only worthwhile system were usually wind based. The reason is obvious. By comparison, sea based renewable power means coping with a corrosive environment, and a liquid power source that carries much more energy than is gaseous partner, meaning that the hardware has to be much stronger to cope.

Back at the start of the wave and tidal power search, there was little research (and the bulk of the interest was in the speedy return from easily manufactured wind systems), and less incentive as a result. Now, the message that the land would have to be buried under wind turbines is beginning to get through, and wave/tidal schemes are beginning to look more attractive, especially since coal is still seen as dirty for various reasons, CCS (carbon capture and storage) is still to get going seriously, and the old radiophobia problem is still being loudly championed by those opposed to nuclear power.

The potential good news is that as time has passed, material science has progressed, we have better computer control systems, and the old ideas that were not developed in the early years of wave/tidal power may hold new promised if revisited and addressed using ‘new’ technology.

The BBC reported that ‘forgotten’ wave power technology from the 1980s was being examined and evolved to provide design inspiration for new systems currently being developed, and that there had been an assumption that because the technology hadn’t worked then, it wasn’t worthy of reconsideration. However, it seems that as is usually the case, making an assumption rather than a reasoned judgement was a bad idea, and that by revisiting the earlier ideas, but using modern material, an effective wave power generator could be built.

BBC News – Firm develops ‘forgotten’ wave power technology

It may be taking a while but, as time passes, it looks as if the ideas I’ve been posting in here about wave/tidal power over the past few years (while I also took a gentle, but firm, swipe at wind power) just might not be the ramblings of a deranged lunatic after all.

This particular project has another couple of years to run, so we’ll see how close I was, and if there’s anything useful to be had, or if any more ‘surprises’ join it.

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June 16, 2010 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , ,

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