Marine Energy

Marine Current Energy

 

What is Marine Current Energy?

Marine Current Energy is energy found in the powerful ocean currents that flow through marine environments. Ocean currents are powerful underwater streams of kinetic energy that channel water in a given direction for what could be miles on end. This energy source is a humongous vein of untapped energy whose ins and outs are currently being examined heavily by marine energy groups; who see this as a very important source of energy which could potentially serve to energise a large portion of coastal city energy needs, at a small cost for the city and its inhabitants.

 

How do you produce Marine Current Energy?

Marine Current Energy has yet to be implemented at a large scale, since the technology behind harvesting said energy source is still at an early phase. That being said, the intended method of energy production via Marine Currents involves the placement of underwater turbines, much like those used in wind energy, and deep underwater to extract the current’s kinetic energy. The turbines spin and move with the movement of the currents and subsequently charge batteries or energy lines with electric current. Again, the idea is very similar to wind energy and wind turbines, which follow the flow of air and energy.

 

What are some of the benefits of this type of energy?

Marine Current Energy is a clean, renewable energy source that can be harvested with little to no effort made on our part. It generates no waste, unlike petroleum based fuels and nuclear energy. It can potentially create a vast amount of energy prompted by the density of water. Production costs of the energy source, in comparison to natural gas and nuclear energy, are quite low and again, have a zero waste factor. It has been noted that a current with a velocity of 12 miles per hour, is practically equivalent to a wind current travelling at 110 miles per hour. Inherently, it is an extremely efficient, renewable energy resource.

 

What are some of the disadvantages of this type of energy?

Some of the current problems with Marine Current Energy involve the placement of the turbines. They must be placed in areas that do not affect wild life and must also be designed to not be harmful to any wildlife that may be in the surrounding area. Ship movement and recreational usage of the area must also be taken into consideration when placing the turbines so as to avoid undesirable situations.

 

How does Marine Current Energy contribute to sustainability?

Marine Current Energy has immense potential in the field on sustainability thanks to its low maintenance cost. The turbines that would be used in this type of energy field do not require any type of input energy besides the kinetic energy generated by the current to actually function.

 

Notable examples of the usage of this type of energy

Currently, there are no active Marine Current Energy farms as some design challenges have yet to be addressed. However, due to its high energy yield, Marine Current Energy has been marked as a potentially important energy source for Europe’s ever increasing electric needs. Reports from the U.S. Department of the Interior have also noted the significance of the kinetic energy created by these currents in a study, underlining that harvesting 1/1000th of the energy in the gulfstream could power 35% of Florida. Currently in progress of implementation, there is a project in Maryland in which attempts to implement the use of tidal energy, a type of ocean current energy not entirely related to ocean current energy. This will be the first wave energy system implemented in the electrical system of a state in America.

 

What attempts to acquire energy via marine biomes are currently being executed in Puerto Rico?

As of now, in 2012, the major focus of the P.R. government for marine energy is in the form of Wave Power. Wave power, much like Marine Current Energy, relies on the Kinect energy generated by large movements of water in the form of waves to move turbines which then generate electricity. In Puerto Rico, there has been a large discussion regarding the implementation of “oscillating water columns”. These devices, hooked up to attenuators to transfer the energy back to shore, use waves to force air up a ventilation shaft which then causes a turbine to spin and generate electricity. Using these generators, it has been estimated that, with just Puerto Rico north coast, an excess 17,000,000 MW/h could be generated, representing 80% of Puerto Rico’s energy needs back in 2006. 

Marine Current energy, however, has yet to be presented as a viable energy source for Puerto Rican needs. It has been talked about and considered but ultimately, Wave Power is considered a much more viable energy source for Puerto Rico due to its accessibility and relatively low investment cost. wave power, however, suffers greatly from the same problems as Marine Current Energy; this being the placement of the generators, their effect on the environment, and other ecological factors.

 

References

http://www.energyland.emsd.gov.hk/en/energy/renewable/marine.html
http://ocsenergy.anl.gov/documents/docs/OCS_EIS_WhitePaper_Current.pdf
http://www.eere.energy.gov/topics/renewable_energy.html
http://ocsenergy.anl.gov/guide/current/index.cfm
http://aceer.uprm.edu/pdfs/harnessing_energy_oceans.pdf
http://www.esru.strath.ac.uk/EandE/Web_sites/05-06/marine_renewables/background/marinecurrents.htm