Daily VideoSeptember 16, 2013
Can Coastal Tides Power America?
Last summer the Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) installed an underwater turbine in the bay off Eastport, Maine, the Eastern-most city in the United States. The turbine turns tides into clean, renewable energy.
“Tides are totally predictable, we’ve known for centuries when the tides are comin’ and goin’,” said ORPC CEO Chris Sauer. “We can tell you on– you know, this day, 20 years from now– at this moment, how much electricity we’ll be generating.”
Currently, power generated by water comes almost entirely from dams, accounting for about 7 percent of the U.S.’s electricity needs. However, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates this number will more than double by the year 2030, to 15 percent.
The turbine has raised concerns about the impact on fish and marine mammals, especially since Eastport’s economy depends on the water. To combat these fears, Sauer said, “We do extensive monitoring, and the bottom line is that there is no known– impacts– to the marine environment.”
Local residents back up his claims, saying that the $21 million dollar project has been an overall boon for the small town economy.
“They’ve come in and they’ve hired people,” said Eastport resident David Marang, who helps operate salmon farms in the area. “It’s like, you’ve got to take 5 jobs in Eastport would be equal to 50 jobs in a city like Bangor, Maine. You know, every job counts around here.”
Warm up questions
- What do you know about sustainable energy sources? Can you name three? How are they different from non-sustainable energy resources like fossil fuels? Be specific.
- What is a turbine?
- Answer – A turbine, from the Greek “τύρβη” (“turbulance”), is a rotary mechanical device that extracts energy from a fluid flow and converts it into useful work. A turbine is a turbomachine with at least one moving part called a rotor assembly, which is a shaft or drum with blades attached. Moving fluid acts on the blades so that they move and impart rotational energy to the rotor. Early turbine examples are windmills and waterwheels. Source: Wikipedia
- In what ways do non-sustainable energy resources create a negative effect on the environment? If they are not good for the environment, why do we use them?
- Can you explain how an underwater turbine using the consistent change in tide could produce energy? Hint: Think of other turbine sources of energy like wind mills and waterwheels.
- What would be a good way to evaluate if there is any effect on the environment from the underwater turbine?
- What role do you see renewable energy sources playing in the future of energy policy for the United States and the world? Do you see it changing the role that energy from oil or coal (non-renewable resources) will play?
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
A county clerk in Kentucky went to jail Thursday for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Continue reading
Where children grow up has a big impact on their ability to improve their economic standing later in life, new research says. Continue reading
President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Alaskan Arctic during a three-day trip this week to discuss climate change and its threat to the region. Continue reading
New research suggests that experiencing intense psychological trauma may have a genetic impact on a person’s future children. Continue reading
Speaking in one of the neighborhoods worst hit by Hurricane Katrina, President Obama praised the city’s recovery and acknowledged the challenges still facing its residents. Continue reading