by Larry Smith
On a trip to Florida this past weekend, I picked up several magazines. By chance, three featured stories that were relevant to the Bahamas.
Power from the Ocean
The first was an article in The Futurist about a project by Florida Atlantic University - located just down the road from my hotel - on the Gulf Stream's potential to produce electricity.
The university has a $5 million grant to research technology to generate electricity from the Gulf Stream current that flows from the Caribbean to Greenland - between Florida and the Bahamas - at a top speed of about four knots.
Florida's electricity use is expected to rise by 30 per cent over the next decade, and the state is heavily dependent on imported sources of energy. That's one reason why there has been so much interest in basing liquified natural gas plants at Bimini and Freeport (to pipe imported gas across the Gulf Stream to Florida power stations).
But this new project will use tidal current turbines to generate power in much the same way that land-based windmills do - in the form of an offshore underwater 'wind' farm. Since water is denser than air, even slow-moving currents can exert great force on a turbine, meaning that smaller rotors can be used to keep costs down. The blades turn slowly in the water and do not pose a threat to marine life.