Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Florida's Ocean Energy Potential: electricity compliments of the Gulf Stream

When it comes to sources of alternative energy, there are many different technologies being studied by big and small companies alike. Personally, I believe the big energy corporations have yet to fully embrace the concept that the traditional business models (oil and coal) need to be put to rest before there is a major shortage, but I'm afraid that corporate bureaucratic lethargy combined with potential profits from dwindling resources may prove to be the case.

I have been fascinated with algae biofuels as one such alternative because of both its capacity to produce biofuel without impacting food resources, like corn ethanol, and its potential for becoming nearly self-sustaining as the C02 produced in the energy process can be recycled to support algae growth.

But CNN ran an interesting story on Monday regarding a high-tech means of generating electricity for Florida - the fourth most populous state in the U.S. and one that is "at the cusp of an energy crisis," according to Frederick Driscoll, director of the Florida Atlantic University's Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology. And there's the tip-off: Ocean Energy.

The Center is looking into the potential for harnessing the power of the Gulf Stream to operate undersea turbines. It's a formidable project as there needs to be a complete assessment, which has already begun, to map out the Gulf Stream's energy potential 24/7 and a study of all potential environmental impacts - not to mention developing the required technology on a large scale.

But apparently the energy potential is hard to ignore. "The predictions at this point estimate that the strength of the Gulf Stream could generate anywhere between four to 10 gigawatts of power, the equivalent of four to 10 nuclear power plants," says Sue Skemp, executive director of the Center.

Read the complete CNN news report.

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