The Telegraph reports (be sure to watch the UM News video below!) that water power generation technologies that use waves, tides or faster currents created by dams are limited in where they can be used and cause significant obstruction in rivers or the sea. Turbines and water mills need an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth’s currents are slower than three knots.
Now comes a device designed by scientists at the University of Michigan called the “Vivace” (vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy) that is inspired by the way fish swim.
The engineers are now deploying a prototype device in the Detroit River, which has a flow of less than two knots. Their work, funded by the US Department of Energy and the US Office of Naval Research, is published in the current issue of the quarterly Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering.
A few weeks ago, Chris Schilling of the Tri-Cities Business Review wrote an interesting post about why he thinks Michigan offshore wind farms are inevitable: the potential supply of offshore, wind-generated electricity is simply too big to ignore:
…a small increase in wind speed enormously boosts power. Despite high installation and maintenance costs, offshore wind farms can be profitable if the wind blows fast enough. As a general rule, offshore wind speeds are much, much bigger than onshore wind speeds. This is especially true in Michigan, as it is in Europe. (check out the Michigan wind maps)
Finally, a couple of quick hits: First, in Greening Cherry Republic, the Glen Arbor Sun takes a look at activities that the world’s largest cherry products company is taking to reduce energy consumption. Second, I think that this Comedy Central interview with T. Boone Pickens talking about how we can use our resources in America to end our dependence on foreign oil is more than just funny – it lays out a clear path towards energy independence that relies on common sense investment and decisions.