OCEANS OF ENERGY: Reservoir of Power for the Future by Augusta Goldin

OCEANS OF ENERGY: Reservoir of Power for the Future

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A positive, essentially uncritical view of the ocean as the energy source of the future, with chapters on six general approaches to tapping its power. The first, harnessing tidal energy, has already been realized in La Rance power station in France--and might soon become economically competitive at Passamaquoddy and Cobscook Bays in Maine. There are several proposals for harnessing wave energy, especially in Japan where there is much wave energy to tap. Florida scientists foresee using the Florida current to generate electricity; spokesmen for this plan believe in using different energy sources in different localities depending on what is available there. On the other hand, supporters of the DOE-backed OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion--get it?) believe their plan is the real and only ""energy bonanza."" It would capitalize on the temperature difference between solar-heated surface water and the very cold water below. (The designers of one thermal system claim it would be cheaper than coal or nuclear power.) Others look to the ocean as a farm for growing fuel in the form of kelp; the energy trapped by photosynthesis would be converted to gas for vehicles. And the last, farthest-out scheme would take advantage of differences in salinity where fresh water meets the ocean. (This idea is based, we finally dig out of Goldin's verbal diagram, on the fact that ""the osmotic flow is always from the weaker salt solution to and into the more concentrated solution."") As a brief for alternative plans this provides added coverage on a subject sure to be studied for some time. But without Kiefer's expository talent (see Energy for America, p. 11), Goldin tends to talk about the various plans and devices without cutting through to a clean explanation on any level. And her early assessment of the world energy situation is unconscionably silly.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1980
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich