DO THE WAVE

Could this wave run your hair dryer?

Could this wave run your hair dryer?

The prospect of using ocean waves to generate electricity is, uh, currently under study.  According to yesterday’s Ventura County Star (1/4/09), a company in Washington state has applied to the feds for a permit to explore an area a few miles off the Ventura coast for that purpose.  The general idea is to employ what’s called an “oscillating water column”:  The motion of the waves pushes air back and forth in the column, spinning a turbine that generates electricity.  Presumably the electricity would get  from there to shore by a very long extension cord.

The company estimates that the Ventura site could supply up to 100 megawatts, which I would think is enough to operate every television in the county during “Dancing With The Stars”.  So, what are the possible drawbacks to such a project?  For one thing, it would mean that one more *!#*&! platform would be installed off the coast of SoCal — another navigational hazard for drunk power boaters.

Expense might be another deterrent.  Greys Harbor Ocean Energy President Burton Hamner supplied figures that suggest the Ventura site could cost in the neighborhood of $500 million.  That used to be considered a lot of money, but in 2009 dollars is merely the player payroll of the New York Yankees.  Hey — if we could get an infielder and a relief pitcher to defer salary, we might have enough money to light a stadium.  And while we’re there, let’s do the wave!

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