Current power: New tide turbines tap oceans of energy

日期:2017-06-01 04:00:18 作者:贲侦聒 阅读:

By Fred Pearce OFF the northernmost tip of Scotland, where the turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean meet those of the North Sea, sits a chain of 70 mostly uninhabited islands collectively known as Orkney. Best known for its wildlife and Neolithic historical sites, it isn’t the first place you think of as a centre for cutting-edge science. Yet it is at the heart of what could soon be a renewable energy renaissance. The strong tides around these islands have led the European Union-funded European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) to use Orkneys’ waters as the world’s largest testbed for a renewable energy source that has been stalled for years: tidal power. If new turbine designs being tested here can survive the pitiless Scottish swells, they will finally tame one of the world’s most promising sources of renewable energy. But that’s not all. Some of these designs could go far beyond tapping tides along the coast, reaping energy from the most powerful phenomena in the oceans – the world’s major ocean currents. Harness these powerhouses, and tidal power would help smash all previous predictions of how much energy the oceans can provide. Tidal power has lagged behind other forms of renewable energy for almost 30 years. Not even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has managed to muster much enthusiasm for the technology: it recently estimated that the ocean’s maximum contribution to the global energy budget would not exceed a paltry 1 to 2 per cent by 2050. Tidal power fell out of favour for good reason. Initial attempts to generate electricity from tides did so with big,