With all the worries about burning coal or oil to make electricity, some countries are turning to technology to harvest other sources.

Here in the Philippines, the government has announced that it plans to build a tidal power generator near Cebu to help generate electricity for our central islands.

From the Manila Bulletin:

The Philippines’ quest for energy self-sufficiency during a time of spiralling fuel costs will get a big boost before the end of the year when the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) targets the full operation of the country’s first marine current energy project that will utilize sea currents to produce electricity.

DoST Undersecretary Graciano Yumul, Jr. said the platform for its marine current energy is scheduled for installation by December this year at the Tañon Strait between Cebu and Negros islands, where sea current is predictable and strong enough to turn on power turbines mounted on a platform.

The technology used is similar to that being used in Italy, in the Straits of Messina since 2001.

But last month, the UK added it’s own tidal power electricity generator to the grid. Located in Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland,

The trial at Strangford Lough, in Northern Ireland, uses a device called SeaGen and generates power at 150kW. However, engineers have plans to increase power to 300kW by the end of the summer. When it is eventually running at full power SeaGen will have an output of 1,200 kW, enough for about 1,000 homes

So it’s not exactly time to turn off the local coal burning plant, but like windmills, every little bit helps.

Tidal areas that could benefit to use similar technology are located in many areas, from Cape Cod to San Francisco bay to Norway to the Mozambique channel.

Of course, this brings up complaints by environmentalists who worry that, just as windmills are blamed for killing birds, the turbines might kill sealife, change the coastline, and endanger the primitive fishing culture in the area. But tidal electrical plants have been around for quite awhile, the earliest one in France built in 1960, and one in Nova Scotia in use since 1984.

With the increased need for clean energy, newer designs might be one answer to supplying electricity.

Environmentalists have already been up in arms when one company started exploring for oil in the Tanon straits of the Philippines, because they worry about oil spills destroying these rich fishing regions.Like offshore drilling in the US, such concerns have to be balanced with the need for electricity and with regulations to protect the environment.

However, so far, the objections to tidal power are minimal. If this plant works, other tidal electrical generation stations could be built in the thousand islands of the Philippines.

One hopes that the elites will see the need for cheap energy in this region will outweigh the elitist ideas that think primitive living for poor people is the way to keep the environment clean, and who oppose making poor people’s lives easier via electricity that allows them comfort in their homes and jobs in their towns.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

 

 

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