backtop


Print 32 comment(s) - last by DontUhatePants.. on Jan 7 at 1:58 AM


Ocean Power Technologies, whose power-generating test buoy is pictured here, has been forced to deploy its technology in New Zealand and Australia, due to an ocean power licensing bureaucratic mess here in the U.S.  (Source: Ocean Power Technologies)
Political bickering may hold up plans to deploy and test new wave power technologies to the U.S.

When it comes to alternative energy, President-elect Barack Obama and his team, as in other tech fields, is stating that the time for change is now.  As part of his team's program, which encompasses wind, solar, and examining clean nuclear options, the team is turning its sights to ocean power.

Countries like Britain and Portugal have already jumped on exploiting the vast amount of energy in the ocean.  Powered by the gravitational pull of the moon, the Earth's tides carry a vast amount of energy, almost entirely untapped by current generators.  While the challenge of deploying a device out at sea that can withstand the elements and deliver power to the main land is considerable, many companies have already tackled the problem with innovative designs.

According to New York-based Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit environmental advocacy organization, U.S. ocean power efforts, on the other hand, are stuck in a political mire.  The group met with President-elect Obama and his advisors to help them realize the nature of this problem.

In the U.S., two branches of government have been granted conflicting jurisdiction over the seas:  the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Minerals Management Service, part of the Department of the Interior.  The result has been a squabble over who's in charge of approving projects which has been unable to be resolved thus far.

The Minerals Management Service gained the power to issue licenses to alternative energy projects on the outer continental shelf, 3 to 200 miles off shore, with the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  That law, however, failed to eliminate the preexisting licensing authority granted to FERC.  Now both organizations claim they have the right to issue the license.

Thus far, both organizations have been unable to resolve the territory battle.  What has resulted is that funding for U.S. ocean-based alternative energy projects has dried up due to uncertainty about licensing.

The coalition pleading their case before President-elect Obama was composed of officials from local governments, utilities, environmental groups and ocean power companies, including Pennington, N.J.-based Ocean Power Technologies (OPTT).

If something is not done to clean up the mess, these groups say, the U.S. will lose its alternative energy lead to foreign competitors. Ocean Power Technologies is illustrating this as it is currently pulling some of its U.S. projects and has recently announced major projects in Australia and New Zealand.

The problem is among the toughest challenges to face the transition team, led by incoming Energy Secretary Steven Chu, currently a Professor of Physics and Molecular and Cellular Biology of University of California, Berkeley.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: This just in
By grath on 12/26/2008 1:48:44 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
They're scared of bad press and a negative reaction from the superstitious and scientifically illiterate public.


The problem really comes down to the media. They are the lens that shapes how the issue is perceived for both the policy makers and the public.

On the public side, they have failed to properly educate people about the technology as it exists in the modern world, instead leaving it to the body of "common knowledge" about nuclear power that was accumulated during the Cold War, from which many people have derived their current understanding and opinion of it, along with the unfortunate poster boys for the industry that are Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

That education, tainted by politics, Cold War propaganda and fear, extremism on all sides, and the medias tendency to focus on the negative, is the medias responsibility. They taught people poorly and they are the only ones in a position to fix it. It does not help that any report related to nuclear power doesnt fail to mention Chernobyl or how Congress doesnt want to let us bury nuclear waste in Nevada.

From the policy making side the understanding of the technology may be better, but its still a case of too many lawyers and not enough engineers, and the threat that the lens of the media represents is too imposing to make any meaningful progress unless the media is known to be on your side.

So before policy can change, the media needs not only be supportive, but have worked to reeducate the public enough that they will at least be less afraid of nuclear power if not supportive of it. That may sound like it borders on unethical manipulation of the media, and it indeed may, but that would certainly not be unprecedented, so the question becomes is the issue important enough? Obviously I think it is, and many would agree with me.

Emphasize the safety of nuclear power as it exists today rather than 30-60 years ago, tie it to the infrastructure and jobs programs, increased energy independence, call it a national priority, run some shows on PBS, Discovery, 60 Minutes, Larry King, O'Reilly, Oprah, etc. Then we might have a platform that a president can issue a directive from. Anything short of that kind of support and it probably wont happen.


"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki