Pelamis Power, the company putting large, snake-like devices off the coast of Portugal appears to be having money trouble. The company that owns them is, well, going bankrupt. Until Pelamis can find a new financial friend, it looks like they will have to wait on the sidelines.
It’s starting to look like ocean and wave power might just be one of those technologies that never really takes off; kind of the way algae looked after last week’s announcement that GreenFuel was closing shop. It’s frustrating, because when you look at the ocean you can’t help but thinking “Man! Why aren’t we tapping all that energy?”
The hard truth is: although it would be nice, it’s just technologically very difficult to build, operate and maintain these things at sea. Even Verdant Energy can’t seem to put turbines in New York’s East River yet. Granted, these are engineering challenges and they will eventually be overcome. But let’s not forget that even if we tapped all of our shores, it wouldn’t be that much. At a conference this year, Saul Griffith estimated the entire global tidal potential at 3.5 TW, which may sound like a lot, but is actually pretty low compared to other sources (he estimated global geothermal capacity, for example at 32 TW). So is wave power really worth the effort?
But there are those who are more optimistic, and see Pelamis’ failure simply as the inevitable consequence for an overambitious startup. This Green Inc. piece quotes one Robert Bedard of the Electric Power Research Institute (a think tank out in Palo Alto where scientists think about the future of electric power), who believes that PG&E and Ocean Power Technology have a chance to really succeed, as they have more money and experience.
Via Green Inc
written by Steve, May 21, 2009
written by Roger Brown, June 16, 2009
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