In a time before powerful and technologically advanced computers, and possibly still to this day with all that equipment, a trained ‘pilot’ was given the reins of any vessel that attempted to pass through the Port Phillip Heads, into Port Phillip Bay, in Melbourne, Australia. The reason was because of the powerful rip tide that connects Port Phillip Bay to Bass Strait.
Now Singapore company Atlantis Power Resources is looking at that very same rip as a possible location for water turbines that could feasibly power up to a thousand homes.
Tidal power is not a new technology. Making use of tides that are in all reality, “as regular as clockwork”, is more reliable than wind or solar, cleaner than coal, and much less contested than nuclear power. And Atlantis has been testing a turbine in Corio Bay, one of numerous bays in the southwest corner of Australia’s Port Phillip Bay. Their plans, if approved, would see two such turbines used in The Rip.
The Rip is sometimes described by many sailors as one of the most dangerous shipping paths on the planet. At times, the height of the water between the Bay and Bass Strait can be as much as five meters, and thus a common site is witnessing a mass of water flow from one side to the other. In fact, during every tide, 4% of Port Phillip Bay’s 25 cubic kilometers volume of water – a cubic kilometer of water – is exchanged from side to side.
However, despite Atlantis’ claims that its systems are not only silent and out of mind, but environmentally clean, are not quieting people’s fears. Environmentalists have already been angered over dredging in Port Phillip, deepening channels to allow for larger ships to be admitted to the ports, and are now ready to turn their attention towards tidal power in The Rip. This once again shows the naivety, ignorance and preponderance of knee-jerk reactions that makes it hard to make any environmentally friendly advancement’s in Australia.
Nevertheless, the idea is an interesting one, and one that could – if allowed to proceed – provide for a growth in the tidal power industry, and a new avenue of renewable electricity generation.
Source: The Geelong Advertiser
credit: suburbanbloke at Flickr under a Creative Commons license
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