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Earth Power News

Scottish Wave Energy Plans Move Forward 100

It's been a long time coming (2007, 2005, and 2002 respectively), but the project to harness wave energy off the Scots coast is finally coming together. Reader krou writes: "The BBC is reporting that ten sites on the seabed off Scotland in Pentland Firth and around Orkney have been leased to energy companies with the hopes of generating wave and tidal energy. 'Six sites have been allocated for wave energy developments potentially generating 600 megawatts of power and four for tidal projects, also generating 600 MW.' The leases were awarded to SSE Renewables Developments, Aquamarine Power, ScottishPower Renewables, E.ON, Pelamis Wave Power, OpenHydro Site Developments, and Marine Current Turbines. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said that 'These waters have been described as the Saudi Arabia of marine power and the wave and tidal projects unveiled today — exceeding the initial 700MW target capacity — underline the rich natural resources of the waters off Scotland.'"
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Scottish Wave Energy Plans Move Forward

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  • I hope this turns out better than the geothermal energy that was causing earthquakes.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/business/energy-environment/24geotherm.html [nytimes.com]

    But I jest, this is a step in the right direction.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Culture20 ( 968837 )
      More likely: they might "generate" localized calm-ish zones and be magnets for debris.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by M-RES ( 653754 )

        Tidal generators don't create 'calm' zones, because tides aren't driven by a pushing force, rather by a pulling force (lunar gravitational pull), so water is merely dragged across/through a generator and continues to be dragged after it has passed the 'obstacle'.

        Wave powered generators such as the Salter Duck did leave calm zones behind them as they absorbed the waves' vertical kinetic energy in long arrays strung out perpendicular to the direction of the waves' travel. However, these designs were dropped a

    • Well, I for one, do not want to be accused of accelerating climate change and continental drift.

    • That WAS causing earthquakes? The nyt link didn't load for me even when I allowed scripts, I guess the NYT is dead to me. But I live near to The Geysers and they're still pumping shit into the ground, we're still more seismically active than without the shit-pumping, and they're still paying out claims for people with earthquake damage on Cobb mountain. I was relieved when they cancelled the plan to do their experimental drilling here, of the type that caused major seismic activity elsewhere. We really don'

  • by HBoar ( 1642149 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @11:08PM (#31504458)

    The aim is to generate 1.2 gigawatts

    I think they'll find they need another 10MW to achieve what they're really after....

  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @11:12PM (#31504484)

    Removing this energy from the ocean may cause an imbalance in the gravitational effects between the Earth and the Moon. Well, not imbalance, but rather a rebalance.

    If we cause the Moon to move away from our planet, we lose both our astrodebris sweeper and more importantly our tide maker. Anthropogenic effects are real, and I'm not sure I'm happy to see the deliberate removal of energy from the ocean without further study on longterm planetary effects.

    • by Al's Hat ( 1765456 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @11:20PM (#31504540)

      The electricity generated will power devices that shed heat, the heat adds to global warming, the global warming increases intensity of hurricanes and cyclones, the hurricanes and cyclones stir the oceans...no problem!

    • Don't worry, it's just periodically call a lot of people for a jump day in the beaches all over the world...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      I wonder what it will be like for those humans, a million years from now, when they realize that the moon is crashing into the earth because their great-great-great-great-etc uncles needed more electricity to post on slashdot.

      • by JesseL ( 107722 )

        Doesn't tapping tidal energy result in the moon moving further from Earth?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Temporarily, yes. But once the earth-moon system is tidally-locked, it will come back. Extracting tidal energy slows the earth's rotation and hastens the process.

          Of course, a million years is slightly exaggerated. It's probably more than 30 billion years, without help, and of course the sun would vaporize us all long before then. We would have to build a lot of tidal generators to actually speed it up.

        • by BrentH ( 1154987 )
          I'd tap that.
      • They'll probably think of us as insensitive clods...
      • by BrentH ( 1154987 )
        You're saying slashdotters will have kids now? Nonsense. The moon will crash into the sea before that happens.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dbIII ( 701233 )
      I'm confused about the motivations behind that "big question" post.
      Are you being serious but incredibly badly informed there, attempting a joke, or have some ulterior motive to attempt to influence the gullible?
      If you are being serious I suggest going down to the seaside and look at the waves hitting a big fucking cliff and consider how much energy is being tranferred there.
      If you are joking is it a dig at climate change being postulated to alter things on your perfect, unchanging 6000 year old earth? Thin
      • I suggest going down to the seaside and look at the waves hitting a big fucking cliff and consider how much energy is being tranferred there.

        Were that I be so wise as to deduce the secrets of Creation by gazing upon the Scottish shore.

      • by Cryacin ( 657549 )
        It's BadAnalogyGuy...

        You must be new here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The force of gravity between the earth and the moon is roughly 2*10^20 newtons. Moving the moon 10 meters further from the earth would take over 10^13 Joules of energy (and that only accounts for the change in gravitational potential).

      Furthermore, the rotation of the earth is already causing us to loose the moon at a rate of about 3 cm per year. If we were to reduce tide to the point where the ocean did not fluctuate at all, perhaps we wouldn't loose the moon in 1000000 years.

      • Moving the moon 10 meters further from the earth would take over 10^13 Joules of energy (and that only accounts for the change in gravitational potential).

        Hmm, 10^13 joules. 1.2 gigawatts. So, we're talking about 140 minutes output for this tidal generator....

      • The force of gravity between the earth and the moon is roughly 2*10^20 newtons. Moving the moon 10 meters further from the earth would take over 10^13 Joules of energy

        I think you're missing a "few" orders of magnitude there... 2*10^20 N over 10 meters is 2*10^21 J. 10^13 J is an absolutely wimpy amount of energy -- humanity consumes that much every couple of seconds.

    • by HBoar ( 1642149 )
      Surely you mean move toward our planet? In any case, I imagine the energy required to shift the moons orbit any significant amount would be rather astronomical..... can someone be bothered calculating it out?
      • No moving away is correct the moon pulls the water the earth spins causing the rising water to move ahead of the moon which pulls back on the moon thus adding extra acceleration to the moon which causes it to move away.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You've been moderated as funny but you sound crazy and serious.

      The moon causes tides. The tides don't cause the moon to stay in orbit.

      • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @12:31AM (#31504920) Homepage Journal

        The tidal bulge on the Earth actually drags on the moon and increases its orbital velocity. It does this because the rotation of the Earth drags the bulge ahead of the sub-lunar point. The gravitational field of the bulge attracts the moon so the earths rotation slows as the moons orbital velocity increases. Eventually we will be tidally locked like Pluto and Charon and tides will be much smaller.

        My preferred solution is to dump a whole lot of nuclear waste on the far side of the moon and turn it into a bomb. I wanted my proposal implemented by 1999 but not enough people saw the gravity of the situation.

      • by Z34107 ( 925136 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:01AM (#31505622)

        Mods are on crack. That deserves a +5 troll, because that was the most successful troll I've seen... well, in a few days. But still, a hearty chuckle ye brought me, Bad Analogy Guy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      The moon is moving away. We only have 600 million more years before there will be no more total solar eclipses.

    • Re:The big question (Score:4, Informative)

      by Netssansfrontieres ( 214626 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @01:28AM (#31505142) Journal

      We sometimes forget just how heavy water is, or how much energy ocean waves carry.

      Some time ago, I did some statistical analysis of wave heights in Scapa Flow, not far away from the site proposed here in northern Scottish waters. It has very steady, large swells.

      Imagine a wave (or swell) of 10m peak height, extending 2 km across, and 50m front-to-back. That's a nice 0.3 * 10^6 kg of water ... move it forward at 30kph ... repeat every 10 or 20 seconds, and you've got 10^9 Joules/second, about 1GW. For the surface wave. (More energy is transferred more steadily by sub-surface currents.)

      Lunar tidal flows are so much larger than these that the prospect of drawing enough energy from open waters to do anything to earth - moon movements seem to be off by many orders of magnitude.

      Full disclosure: I used to be a pretty good physicist, but that was a long time ago.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Full disclosure: I used to be a pretty good physicist, but that was a long time ago.

        Right you are mate. Now wheres mah chip butty?

      • Re:The big question (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kentari ( 1265084 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:55AM (#31506174) Homepage

        You calculated the kinetic energy of a mass of water moving forward at 30kph. In a wave water is not moving forward at the wave speed, but rather gently in an elliptic trajectory. I gather you used 10m as amplitude and not crest to through height.

        The energy flux of waves is given by the formula which you can find on this wikipedia page [wikipedia.org]. A 20m (crest to through) wave with a period of 10s over a lenght of 50m gives you 20MW of wave energy. Still a lot, but almost 2 orders of magnitude less than 1GW.

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You used 50m of coastline. He used 2000. 40 times 20 MW is 800MW which isn't that far from 1 GW.

    • by Jayman2 ( 150729 )
      Funny, but almost correct! There are indeed studies [google.co.uk] of the effect on ocean circulation being conducted to look at the effect of plonking a big turbine into a strong tidal force :)
    • What happens is that the moon pulls water towards itself (tides) then because the earth is spinning the tides are actually ahead of the moon which in turn pull the moon around the earth faster causing to get further away. So employing this would keep the moon where it is longer. Also the moon has a gyroscopic effect on earth and with out is earth's wobble would be more significant. So doing this would keep the moon around a little longer.
    • It will create a rip in space and time where sean william scott will be the new messiah. We will also switch our dependence on oil to something called Fluid Karma.
    • Greed, its all about greed. How can we get something for nothing. In this case energy. If any project steals energy from the waves, the whole eco-system and energy system is changed. What's at stake, fisheries, the gulf stream, the weather, whatever interacts with that energy system currently. I doubt that anyone has done extensive research on what the effects might be except on the bottom line. The ones that will make the money off this one are certainly selling it.

      Lets see, I think cutting down the Cedars

    • by dpilot ( 134227 )

      You're being funny, (I hope) but I might more seriously wonder about other side-effects. Way back when they were looking at a tidal energy project at the Bay of Fundy, when hydraulic modeling showed that harnessing that tidal energy would have the "side effect" of flooding Boston. I hope they've done such modeling for this. Now that I think of it, with greater computer power available, I wonder if they could examine variations on the Bay of Fundy project to find a way to get the energy without flooding B

  • Seems to me that in some parts of the world, you'd never see the ocean completely flat. Should be far more reliable than wind power.


  • Transmission (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @11:35PM (#31504624) Homepage

    Where's this power going to? Is there a transmission grid in place to take it to a populated area that could use an extra 600MW? Orkney's in the middle of ^*$&ing nowhere.

    • by lilo_booter ( 649045 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @12:12AM (#31504832)

      Depends where you are - if you live in Orkney, it's not remote, everywhere else is :-).

    • by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:11AM (#31505664)

      Where's this power going to? Is there a transmission grid in place to take it to a populated area that could use an extra 600MW? Orkney's in the middle of ^*$&ing nowhere.

      No, they're just going to fire the electricity into the air. They have no plans to actually deliver and sell it. You see, people who invest in this sort of thing simply hate money.

      • You laugh, but that happens with wind power in the states. You can build a wind farm of, say 100MW but the "greenies" will only allow you to put in trunking that handles 50MW because it might upset some frog species if you lay down more trunking.
        You can then increase your wind farm to 200MW, claim all the benefits for your State and lock down 3/4 of the blades (again, because the "greenies" won't let you increase the trunking off the wind farm).

        Like I say, you laugh but that scenario exists.

      • Ah yes, the Reverse Lightning Project. We'll show those clouds who's boss!

    • by xaxa ( 988988 )

      Here [nationalgrid.com] is a map of England and Wales' high-voltage electricity grid, but I'm not sure if it's complete for Scotland. It extends to Orkney, anyway.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Dounreay nuclear power station is just across the water.

      • Dounreay was more of a research location rather than a site for large scale power generation - the main nuclear power stations in Scotland are fairly close to cities (Edinburgh for Torness and Glasgow for Hunterston). It is a bit of a give away that it's about as far as you can get from London and still be on the mainland and have reasonable communication links.
  • It figures (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @11:37PM (#31504640)
    If it involves messing around with waves, there's usually a Scottsman [wikipedia.org] involved somehow.
  • is that it's full of Scots..

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)


      Yeah maybe.. It was said by an Irishman [imdb.com]. I really doubt he was serious. In fact, I think he was just reading a quote. I think you people should lighten up a bit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      "It won't last; they're are natural enemies. Like Englishmen and Scots. Or Welshmen and Scots. Or Japanese and Scots. Or Scots and other Scots. Damn Scots, they ruined Scotland!"

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well the English did try sending some of the Scots back to their native Ireland, but the other Irish complained about that rather vigourously with Semtex.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jonbryce ( 703250 )

        Not really. We will be cheering on Algeria, Slovenia and USA in the world cup in June, and if that fails, we will have some more countries to cheer on. In the case of the USA, it wouldn't surpise me if there are more Scottish fans cheering on the team than natives.

  • In fact, a "Wave Motion Gun!"

    • Great minds think alike...and so do ours. Thank you for not leaving me to be the first to post that.
  • I do wonder how ships disabled in storms can be handled in such a way to assure that wind farms are not destroyed. I live in an area where hurricanes strike quite frequently and even in calmer seas we end up with tankers stranded on our beaches all too often.

  • All other means of energy production will not be able to compete with a Liquid Fluorine Thorium Reactor. Maybe if they ever figure out fusion. But they'll probably have to go to the moon to mine Helium 3 to make that work and Obama is death on NASA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LFTR [wikipedia.org]
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      WTF! Electricity was mentioned so of course somebody had to bring the crackpot nukes and the politics.
      At this small scale something cheap and simple beats big experimental nukes with technology twenty years behind South Africa, India and China any day. Give up on Oak Ridge, all they've been good for over the last twenty years is silly stories about how fly ash is supposedly nuclear waste even though it is less radioactive on average than seawater.
      If you want to be a nuke advocate and want to advocate thor
      • The Fly Ash was all TVA and their crap engineers. It had nothing to do with Oak Ridge, Y-12, K-25 or X-10.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          I'm not talking about a spill, i'm talking about a scare campaign.
          The crap engineer was J. P. McBride at Oak Ridge labs who stepped outside of the field he knew to publish some alarmist crap in 1978. For some reason nobody since then has been able to find all the radioactive material that he insisted was so commonplace that it could be used by terrorists to build a nuclear bomb. It perpetuated furthur crap like the 2007 SciAm article "Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste" and a childish PR cam
  • It has already been documented that any undersea turbines will cause too much heat, crack the Earth's crust, and cause the polar ice caps to melt. We'd best keep the seaQuest DSV nearby to stop it when it happens!

    Higher Power (seaQuest DSV) [wikipedia.org]

  • Since the most advanced device, pelamis, appears not to work at all this all seems moot right now.

  • I'm not sure it was so smart deploying a device of that design right off the coast of the country they chose.

  • I wonder if there is a way to get power directly from the gravitational pull of the moon. Just asking.

  • Cost per MW? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by baker_tony ( 621742 )

    So what's the cost per Mw-hr?
    How does it compare against Nuclear's $30 per Mw-hr?
    http://www.nucleartourist.com/basics/costs.htm [nucleartourist.com]

The absent ones are always at fault.