Waves could help power our future
The announcement last week that the Maui gas field might run out 2 years early is a worry because New Zealand relies on natural gas for much of its energy needs. There are also emission problems associated with burning fossil fuels, and fossil fuels are not renewable. So, where can we get the energy we need if we want to increase our economic prosperity and improve our standard of living, without damaging the environment?
One potential, and as yet untapped, energy source around New Zealand is wave power. The resource is enormous, environmentally friendly, and renewable, as is wind energy. Although wind generators are becoming a feature of our landscape, wave generation has not taken off here. Yet there are operational systems under trial in North America and Europe.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) studies show there is an exploitable energy resource around much of our coastline. On average, a 10-km length of New Zealand’s coastline is exposed to as much energy from waves as the energy produced by the Benmore hydroelectric power station – over 200 MW, worth about $200 million a year. Offshore, the resource is much greater, but less accessible. NIWA scientists can now simulate wave conditions for the entire coastline and identify the most likely regions for future exploitation.
To help New Zealand manage the problems associated with climate change and energy reform, NIWA has just established the National Centre for Climate–Energy Solutions. “The Centre will help create new economic, social, and environmental opportunities for New Zealand by finding solutions to these issues,” said Dr Rick Pridmore, NIWA’s Deputy Chief Executive (Strategic Development) in the first issue of Climate–Energy Matters, the Centre’s newsletter, which was published today
The new Centre will provide a focal point to help with reducing greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and energy reform, better use of energy sources, new emission and energy technologies, and reducing undesirable environmental and human health effects associated with energy use and climate change.
or visit the web pages for the National Centre for Climate–Energy Solutions: /ncces
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