Wednesday, July 07, 2010

It is a Choice, and it Takes a Clear Commitment

Steven Hill writes:

During the past decade, as the US has resorted to increasingly desperate strategies to secure more oil - whether Middle East wars under Bush-Cheney or more offshore drilling under Obama - the European landscape has been slowly transformed by new conservation and renewable energy technologies that look like something out of a sci-fi movie. Picture windmills, tidal turbines and solar panels on rooftops, dotting the European landscape. Imagine large cylindrical "sea snakes" bobbing in the ocean, transforming wave motion into electric power. Or vast solar arrays with tens of thousands of panels that have tracking technology to follow the sun and "smart" energy-efficient buildings that monitor the temperature and sunlight to open and close window panels and blinds automatically. Imagine harnessing the body warmth of 250,000 daily commuters to produce heat for a nearby office block. Or how about high-speed trains circling it all, linking major cities, whisking passengers in carbon-friendly efficiency? All of these inventions and more are becoming reality in Europe.

What's that in the photo up above? From the same article:

Portugal is the first country to pioneer an eye-popping new technology known as a "sea snake" or "energy eel." Sea snakes are 100 meter-long floating cylinders that bob semi-submerged in the waves and convert wave motion to power that is then fed into underwater cables and brought to land. Portugal is planning a grid of 30 sea snake segments producing 20 megawatts of power, saving some 30 million tons of carbon emissions. Twenty-five of these grids could power a city the size of Lisbon.

Where's our spirit of competition? USA! USA! USA! Anyone?

Each country is deploying different technologies and acting as a laboratory for the others. Some countries have set ambitious goals: Sweden already generates 40 percent of its energy needs from renewables. In 2007, Germany generated 14 percent of its electricity from renewable energy, preventing 114 million tons of carbon emissions. Meanwhile, the United States generates a paltry 6 percent of electricity from renewables.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Interesting about the sea snakes. I remember reading about a kid (teenager) that had won some competition once for using "wave power". That was several years ago and I've seen nothing about it since. Wonder why? It seemed quite feasible at the time.