Generating power from the endless ebb and flow of the ocean's tides has become a leading area of alternative energy research in the last two years,
and two decades of effort and experimentation is finally making the technology competitive. Dependence on foreign oil, the volatile oil market, and
global warming are driving research into alternative energy sources.
Tidal power proponents liken the technology to little wind turbines on steroids, turning like windmills in the current. Water's greater density means
fewer and smaller turbines are needed to produce the same amount of electricity as wind turbines.
After more than two decades of experimenting, the technology has advanced enough to make business sense, said Carolyn Elefant, co-founder of the Ocean
Renewable Energy Coalition, a marine energy lobbying group formed in May 2005.
In the last four years, the federal commission has approved nearly a dozen permits to study tidal sites. Applications for about 40 others, all filed
in 2006, are under review. No one has applied for a development license, Miller said.
The site that is furthest along in testing lies in New York's East River, between the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens, where Verdant Power plans to
install two underwater turbines this month as part of a small pilot project.
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Ocean wave action is a promising source of alternative energy, as well. Tidal action energy production draws much of its technology from wind
turbine generators, while wave action energy technology must be developed from scratch.
It is good to see renewable energy resources being developed as an alternative to our dependence on coal and oil. Let's face it, we will have to
transition off of our oil dependency to other, sustainable technologies, and we should get started sooner rather than later.