Friday, April 11, 2008

Storing Wind-Powered Energy Under the Sea

I just read this article from CNN about a British researcher and his research where he is attempting to store the energy from wind turbines on the ocean floor. He is proposing a deep sea (600 meters) plastic bag which will hold air which has been compressed by a turbine in order to eliminate concerns about the intermittent nature of wind turbines. His research seems promising and he is conducting land based tests to ensure his calculations are correct. He estimates that he can store 25 Mega Joules for every meter cubed that is bag takes up. The extremely high energy density is due to the high pressure at this depth of the ocean. This is a really interesting idea and I hope that his ideas work out as well as he hopes. The researcher also made one interesting quote at the end of the article:

"We're probably the richest country per head in the world in terms of renewable energy," he said. "But we're way behind Denmark, Germany and the United States."

It seems as if he considers the US as one of the people on the forefront of the renewable energy technology which is an interesting distinction. Its amazing how the US can be the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide and also one of the world's leaders in renewable energy. Everyone likes to point to the U.S. as the source of the world's problems but we are in a unique position. We are the world's third most populous nation but also have one of the highest standard's of living. Of the top 15 most populated Nations in the world only #10 Japan and #14 Germany can come close to our standard of living across the nation. We are going to have challenging times ahead to reduce carbon dioxide because it is not fair for us to restrict the emissions of developing countries. Our lives have benefited from years of unregulated emissions and to tell these countries that their people have to live in poverty even though they have the resources to give them electricity and cars is wrong. The most important thing we can do right now is develop technology as quickly as possible. Policy, Rules, and Regulations are good to have but not nearly as important as developing new technology. We can regulate our emissions to death but China and India will not. We in the US have the luxury of reducing emissions and sticking it to the business to clean up the environment but when huge populations of people are starving and people are struggling daily to survive emissions are not important. We all talk about China opening a new coal power plant a week but if they have the resources to bring electricity and sanitation to a rural region or not open them and reduce carbon emissions what is in the best interest of the people? (The answer is not reducing emissions.) But if we present the opportunity to both provide electricity and not increase carbon emissions, it becomes a better option. The question is not if the technology will come along but when. Hopefully the answer is sooner rather than later.

No comments: