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EcoSeed 2012 Top 5 Water stories for 2012

2012 has been an exciting year for the low-carbon economy where several turning points that both advanced and slowed down the sector happened, shaping the future of renewable energy.

When we talk about hydropower – generating power from the movement of water – we’re usually referring to the use of hydroelectric dams, however, hydropower can also mean the emerging fields of wave and tidal power. Using the movement of the waves and tides is a relatively new field but one with great promise.

Looking back, here are the top five water power stories for 2012:

  1. U.S. Department of Energy releases national wave and tidal energy

    At the start of 2012, the United States Department of Energy released two nationwide resource assessments of the energy potential of America’s wave and tidal resources.

    According to the Energy Department, the waves and tides along the coastal United States can provide approximately 1,420 terawatt-hours of energy a year or 15 percent of the nation’s energy needs by 2030.

    Through their Water Power Program, the Energy Department is undertaking technical and economic assessments of water power technologies in order to tap this rich, potential energy source.

  2. Australia riding the waves of clean energy
    Australia also released a study on their country’s potential to generate clean energy from its waves and tides.

    In July, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization said that ocean energy from waves, current and tides could provide as much as 10 percent electricity for Australia by 2050. This amount of energy is enough to power a city as big as Melbourne.

    C.S.I.R.O. released the results of the report in an effort to inform industry and the government of the potential and challenges of ocean energy technology in the country.

  3. Vattenfall building 10-MW wave energy device with Pelamis
    Swedish utility Vattenfall and Scottish wave energy technology company Pelamis, announced in March that they were forming a joint venture to build a wave energy farm off the coast of Scotland.

    Aegir Wave power, would deploy the Pelamis device to produce 10 megawatts of power for around 8,5000 households. The Pelamis Wave Energy Converter is one of the first offshore wave energy devices to successfully deliver energy into the grid, though that deployment, known as the Agucadoura Wave Farm off the coast of Portugal has since been taken off-line.

  4. Siemens acquires Marine Current, adds tidal power to portfolio
    German conglomerate Siemens, which is already a player in the wind energy sector, decided to branch out into another form of renewable energy generation with the acquisition of a majority stake in Marine Current Turbines Ltd.

    Marine Current Turbines Ltd., is a British company which has developed the world’s first commercial tidal current power plant in Strangford Lough. They also have two other projects using their SeaGen technology in Scotland and Wales.

    Their SeaGen technology uses two axial flow rotors mounted and submerged to generate power in a way similar to a wind turbine. While a wind turbines rotors move when the wind blows to generate power, the SeaGen’s rotors move with the tidal currents to generate power.

  5. Scotland opens $10 million fund for wave and tidal power

    The waters off the coast of Scotland are considered rich in potential for wave and tidal power generation. According to economic development organization Scottish Enterprise, the global marine energy market could realize £4 billion for Scotland's economy by 2020.

    In March 2010, an initial £13 million fund was released by Scottish Enterprise to develop testing of new ocean energy device prototypes in Scotland. In February 2012, an additional $9.5 million fund was announced.

    In August of this year, another fund was announced for ocean energy prototypes, this time from the Scottish government through their Waters Fund to support Scottish developers seeking to enter the marine energy market.

    The Waters Fund started funding marine energy projects in 2010. This newest announcement opens a total of £7.9 million in funds for new wave and tidal prototypes (see related story).

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