San Francisco Mayor Asks Feds for Permission on Major Wave Energy Project

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This morning, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced a preliminary permit application sent to the federal government for a wave power project off the coast of California. The project promises to bring wave energy and jobs to the Bay Area.

Power generated from ocean waves has been recognized to be a cleaner, safer, more efficient answer to our energy needs. When the wind blows with enough consistency and force to provide strong and continuous ocean waves, a tremendous energy can be created. Wave power devices extract energy directly from the surface motion of ocean waves or from pressure fluctuations below the surface. Wave technologies are typically designed to be installed in nearshore, offshore, and far offshore locations.

The north and south temperate zones of the planet have the best sites for capturing wave power as the prevailing westerlies in these zones blow strongest in winter. Locations with the most potential for wave power include the western seaboard of Europe, the northern coast of the UK and the Pacific coastlines of North and South America, Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand.  The San Francisco coastline known for the intensity of its Pacific waves, provides ideal geographical circumstances for a wave power project.

Wave energy farm projects funded in the last few years

Commercial wave and tidal energy farm projects have already been funded in Scotland, England and Australia. Last year, Portugal debuted the world’s first commercial wave energy farm at the Aguçadora Wave Park. The farm converts wave energy into electricity with cylindrical wave energy converters attached to the seabed off Portugal’s northern coast. Energy captured by the converters is carried to an undersea cable station, where it is then fed into the electrical grid.

Even though the concept of wave and ocean power has “made waves” on the renewable energy front in recent years, the concept is not entirely new to San Francisco.  The Mayor suggests that this method of harnessing energy in the Bay Area dates back to the late 1800s. More about this in his post tomorrow.

The Mayor is keen on advancing tidal and wave power pilot projects  as part of an overall commitment to developing renewable energy for the city.

How this fits in with national policy: President Obama has announced a $3.6 trillion budget today.  About $120 billion of the funds are allocated to clean energy projects. From the time of his campaign, President Obama has been committed to reducing the country’s dependence on oil and gas and on creating green jobs. San Francisco’s wave energy project is clearly a step towards achieving the President’s mission.

Related post on Wave Energy:

Image: Creative Commons – lepiaf.geo

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