Thursday, April 09, 2009

Electricity from tides gets real

Canada gets real on energy from the ocean, with the first commercial tidal energy plant in North America set to go online before the end of 2010.

Just like other ocean people, I'm worried about the impacts of industrial development of our oceans. But...CO2 rise is probably a bigger threat, so it's time to test tidal energy and similar options.

"Just say no" to ocean energy is no longer an option, we have to learn when and where to say yes to projects that can help solve our CO2 problem. Captain NIMO (Not In My Ocean) needs to go into retirement.

Is this the right tidal energy plant, in the right place? I don't know, but that's the question to be asking.


John F. Williams said...

"Is this the right tidal energy plant, in the right place? I don't know, but that's the question to be asking."

I agree that's an important question. Another important one is, "what are we going to do differently to develop, evaluate, and deploy new technologies in a way that detects and resolves problems before they turn into ecological disasters?"

Independent monitoring and political will to change have so often not been sufficient to prevent some of our other technologies from becoming so entrenched that we're afraid to change them, despite their environmental impact reaching crisis proportions.

It was a little hard from that Times Colonist article of 5 paragraphs, one sentence per paragraph, to really get a sense of what commitment has been made to evaluating variables other than cost and electrical output, or how much money will be spent on creative solutions to whatever environmental problems are discovered.

I'd like to see more discussion of what we can do to ensure that these sorts of innovative projects incorporate adequate monitoring and use of the precautionary principle. Should we be holding the feet of politicians and investors to the fire? Should we be asking for an independent commission to oversee these things? Has that ever worked? Do we have any good models of effective oversight?

Eric Heupel said...

You're right that Captain NIMO needs to retire but so does Mr. NIMBY, even with the last real hurdle cleared Cape Wind is subject of intense debate. All options need to be on the table for review so the best option can be picked in a timely manner.