Friday, July 22, 2005

Replacing peak oil with waves

From a Peak oil will be a non-event perspective, this article is particularly interesting:From the article:That's only a 10-mile by 10-mile patch of ocean, which just is not that much when you realize how vast the ocean is. The part that is amazing is how simple the idea seems to be:See Peak oil will be a non-event, the Follow-up on peak oil and AltEng for details.

I have often wondered why such buoyancy-powered devices haven't been designed from an atmospheric perspective. That is, rather than being submerged in the ocean, using a lighter-than-air (hot air ballon or dirigible basically) device for a similar purpose. Winds would help help the requisite force - analogous to water currents - as would buoyancy.
jason, I think that if you want to harness the power of the wind it's probably more efficient to just use windmills.

This is a good idea but really only is feasible in coastal environments. I'd also like to emphasize that it's just an "idea". Just like the many other alternative forms of energy Marshall likes to talk about (I like to talk about them too). But none of these ideas will begin to be developed until they're cheaper than fossil fuels. And once that happens there'll be a 10 or 20 year lag time until they are actually fully developed and "ready for prime time".

White papers and press releases tend to be overly optimistic and focus on all the benefits of a new technology while glancing over the difficulties/costs involved in bringing these new technologies to production. Not that that's any surprise: they're usually put out by the companies/organizations that are financial backers of the new technology.

For the record, I'm a peak-oil moderate; it bugs me when people claim it will be a "non-event" just as much as it bugs me when people say peak oil will be "the end of civilization". The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The transition from fossil fuels to alternative forms of energy will likely be difficult- probably cause a global recession/depression, but we'll get through it. And we'll be better off in the end.

One of Marshall's posts on this topic tried to compare peak oil to the year 2000 bug. There're several very significant differences between the two that make this comparison pretty useless. For one, we "knew" for a certainty when the year 2000 bug would occur - to the *second*. We also knew how to fix it. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that it was going to happen. And it was because of this that we were able to prevent it from being anything more than a "non-event". But we spent billions of dollars and man-hours in the process. We only know that peak oil will occur, but we don't know when exactly (it's been "narrowed down" to about a 30 year range) it will happen nor how exactly to "fix" it.

Just my 2 cents. Keep up the good work Marshall- this is a great blog.
Oh, great. Now I will need a power surge protector for tsunmais.
Chevron does not seem to think peak oil is a non-event. They have lively and revealing web site at
Waves are generated by storms in the deep ocean and travel to the coast. Each device will extract a significant portion of the local wave energy (say 30%), so rows of devices more than 2 or 3 deep will quickly become inefficient and then useless.
Therefore most wavepower technology enthusiasts quote a power per metre (length along the coast), not area, and the reference to power available in "100 square miles" sounds like a completely bogus extrapolation if the "width" of the area is more than a few metres.
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