Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Tidally, Man, Tidally

There is sometimes a temptation to say that those of us not on the dark side of this discussion are all reading the same source material. Energy Outlook passes on an MIT Technology Review article that I got in their daily mail. Tapping tidal power, these companies claim that huge amounts of energy in the form of oceanic waves are available:
According to a report released in January, 2005, the total wave power along the coastlines of the U.S. is approximately 2,100 terrawatt hours per year, nearly as much as all of the electricity produced by coal and roughly 10 times the total energy produced by all of the country's hydroelectric plants.

Wave energy systems can capture the same amount of energy using smaller and less expensive equipment than wind or solar systems, according to Roger Bedard of EPRI, who authored the study.

The story goes on to say that the obstacle to harvesting this energy is the federal government:
"Very simply, new energy sources have always been funded by the federal government," Bedard says. However, "(t)he Department of Energy does not have an ocean energy program."
There are two problems with this:
  1. just because the feds have "always" done so doesn't mean they have to do so in the future, and
  2. as I pointed out earlier, the great problem with using other people's money is that there's little incentive to use it productively and economically.
What is more necessary is that the government get out of the way of such projects. The mind-numbing amount of permitting required to get any energy project running is staggering, and even more so when trying to start one that involves the ocean.