Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ocean Energy - Powering Trinidad's Grid and Economy With the Motion of the Ocean



T
here's lots of great discussion going on locally about ocean energy, and particularly wave energy. I had the pleasure of meeting some locals who are excitedly beginning to research current technology and look at developing systems right here in Trinidad. We would demonstrate both our commitment and our responsibility to sustainability by using local talent to explore this exciting potential from fishing and economic impacts, to environmental impacts, all the way to welding prototypes with local artisans.


Mega-what?

While everyone's wrangling around figuring out how to make this economically feasible and all, what if we look at our tiny City, and how much energy it takes to run all our homes. So what really is a megawatt (MW) and how many homes can one MW serve? Watts (W) measure power. Ok pay attention, a 100W lightbulb uses 100W when it is turned on, then you measure the number of hours it's on to get the watt-hour (Wh) of energy -- 5 hours = 500Wh. Watts measure instantaneous power, while watt-hours measure the total over time. Got that?

When looking at MW ratings, it's important to remember the average power production over time due to maintenance and downtime, and you need a backup generation source that can "follow" changes in load. I'm not going into capacity factors or average and peak load factors (google it if you're curious) - let's just characterize this as demand. For West Coast consumers I've seen consumption numbers around 650 kWh/month. Up here we have natural, healthy, environmentally friendly air-conditioning in our fog. Bet we are lots less than that.
Who knows our monthly household average kWh consumption in Trinidad, or how to find it?
A common "myth" is 1 MW of generation equates to 1,000 homes. It depends on where those homes are. In southern areas, energy consumption can be twice as high. Here it may be even lower. So how much will we need to harvest from the ocean each month? 


While I search for those answers, here's more wave energy info. 

There's an interesting state-commissioned white paper that was co-authored by Humboldt State experts exploring our current knowledge. Perhaps it will provide such R&D groups like the one forming in Trinidad with goals toward producing and situating mechanisms in the most environmentally positive situations, while also protecting or possibly enhancing our fishing industries.

As I receive information on using the motion of our Ocean, I'll post it here.
CleanTechnica Blog Article By Gavin Newsom 2/09 - Wave Energy to Bring Power and Jobs to San Francisco

References:
Trinidad General Plan Update: Draft Vision Statement


Resource and Information Links:
e! Science News - Your Daily Dose of Eureka! - Catch the Wave
BBC News: '05 Wave Power Plan for Welsh Coast -The Wave Dragon

1 comment:

  1. From PennElys via email:

    Hi everyone! This is PennElys GoodShield - I've spoken with many of you already about these topics, but just wanted to send out a letter to
    'everyone' :)

    I've been running a small nonprofit since 2004 focused on grassroots community based sustainable development, working solely with the Native American community. Since my family and I have decided to stay local, I've been excited to work with folks in my home community to improve our sustainability, water and food security, and support local education in these topics (for more info about my past, see our work at www.sustainablenations.org) I have been (very) slowly working on getting Roger out to evaluate our City's water pumping and filtration systems on battery-backup microhydroelectricity, and several other projects, and Im excited to begin seeing these lovely 'greener Trinidad' signs around town!
    Please do keep me informed of your plans and meetings - I'd love to help out and support in any way I can!

    We are so lucky to have people like you all on our council!

    Talk to you soon!

    PennElys GoodShield, Project Director
    Sustainable Nations Development Project

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking time to read and respond to my Post. A quick sentence stating your opinion will be much appreciated - it's the reason I'm blogging, Mike