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It's Not Easy to Move Electricity Through Salt Water

This might not seem like the most glamorous bit of the energy revolution, but cables are a big frikkin' deal. And though superconductors are pretty sexy, regular old conducting cables can get pretty fancy too. Particularly when they're under 300 to 1000 feet of salt water.

In this video Gavin Harper takes us on a little tour of how complex a wire really can be. First you have two layers of thin bundled steal cables to protect the cable from stresses. Obviously, the ocean can exert a massive amount of mechanical energy, otherwise we wouldn't be building wave power plants at all.

The materials used to house and insulate the wires have to be changed as well. Since weight isn't a problem, but water-proofing is, heavy rubber is used to insulate the three copper conductors. Also included in the cable are fiber optic wires for communicating with the power-generating structures, be they tidal turbines, wave generators, or offshore wind turbines.

All-together, what once seemed like a pretty simple idea gets massively complicated. But it's just one more little step we've got to take toward a renewable future.

Filmed at EMEC - the European Marine Energy Centre, Orkney, UK,

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Comments (6)Add Comment
written by Luke, July 21, 2008
Why the music at the end?
written by Rob Whitener, July 21, 2008
Why? It completely obscures the last bit that the guy is trying to explain about the cable. For the life of me I don't understand why some videographers insist on mixing musical tracks into an interview. Most of the time when I watch an interview, I want to be able to hear what the interviewer has to say and the music just gets in the way. Its not that hip, really.
Fiber Optics
written by The Food Monster, July 21, 2008
I have no doubt, that saltwater can exert pressure on a cable, however, they will be able to solve this small problem. Whatever happened to Fiber Optics, why aren't they in wide spread use by phone companies yet?
We're sorry, this video is no longer ava
written by Cheez, July 21, 2008
Why, youtube, why?
written by Clinch, July 21, 2008
Don't worry Mr. Cheez, the video is still available (just checked it), sometimes if the embedded video (i.e. this one on ecoGeek) doesn't connect to YouTube properly, it wont play properly.
Just try refreshing the page, or watching it directly on youtube.

Hang on! The author of this article, and the guy in the video have the same name!
But refers to himself in the third person at the start of the second paragraph!
Does ecoGeek have professional ties to the EMEC, or is just than an emecian is an ecoGeek fan?
Because if it's the second, I hope to see you other ecoGeek readers in green sci/tech jobs, send in more stuff like this.
For the record;
written by Gavin D. J. Harper, July 22, 2008
Clinch: I made the video, edited the video for your interest - Hank just uploaded it to the site and wrote an accompanying email - so he's posted it as 'my content' but written an introduction for me - hence the third person smilies/smiley.gif

EcoGeek has no professional ties to EMEC, I write for EcoGeek, visited them, asked them about their kit and made this video to tell you all about what they are doing.

For full disclosure, You may recall an earlier video made at the PURE Energy Centre: - I had no ties with PURE at the time the video was made, although since then they decided to employ me.

The Food Monster: Fibre Optics are good at transmitting data at ultrafast speed, but glass / plastics are rubbish at transmitting power - as they are insulators. There are some fibre-optics in this cable for telemetry, but the power needs a conductor - hence the chunky copper.

Rob Whitener: Sorry about the music - I put the video together in a hurry and thought it enhanced it - although I can see your point and will bear it in mind for future videos I produce for EcoGeek.

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