Turning the Tide
The world’s most northerly town, will soon be the first to take advantage of ocean tides to create electricity with a sub-sea power station. Similar tidal projects are also underway in Australia and Britain, but none has begun selling power. Later this month or early in December, tidal currents on the seabed near Kvalsund, at the Arctic tip of Norway, will begin churning the fish-friendly blades of a windmill-like underwater turbine. The production capacity of the turbine will at first be tiny, but managers hope the project will be powering 1,000 homes by 2004. Tidal power is still the most embryonic of all renewable energy industries, and is struggling for support. Greenpeace’s Truls Gulowsen says, “We need to harness all low-impact renewables we can develop. But offshore wind is more competitive and solar has more potential.” In the past, environmentalists have raised objections to sea power projects because they have involved giant dams that disturb the ocean’s ecology.