Oregon’s move towards tidal energy—Starting at OSU

W

aves are one of our most ignored sources of energy. Think about the fact that tides are made up of water (very massive, compared to air for wind turbines) and move constantly and predictably—always constant, thanks to the gravitational pull of the moon.

The world is quickly catching on by investing in ways to harness this energy (like America’s first tidal turbine in Portland, Maine). Oregon scientists, green as this state is, are not far behind. As it turns out, OSU may be building a tidal energy testing facility in the next few years.

Right now the two locations being discussed are Reedsport, about two thirds of the way down Oregon’s coastline, and Newport, in the middle. OSU’s NNMREC is the group that will build it, and the facility will be called the Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC).

Probably the most familiar-looking form of tidal power collector, the tidal stream turbine basically looks like a wind turbine.

The plan is to decide on a location by the end of this year, and build as soon as NNMREC can secure funding. If all goes well, that means it may be built by the time you’re in college.

As you’ve probably heard in high school, and won’t hear the end of in college: the way we’re living right now is simply not sustainable. We’re driving head-on into the end of the world as we know it and, without renewable energy alternatives, some bad things might happen once we run out of coal and oil.

But it’s not all doomsday. “Greengineering” is one of Oregon’s most focused-on subjects in engineering, because Oregon cares about the environment and we’re known for being on top of this whole environmental sustainability thing.

This is the world's first commercial-scale tidal turbine: SeaGen, in Ireland. It's a tidal stream turbine, with two huge turbines underwater. It reliably generates 1.2MW of power for 18-20 hours per day.Wind turbines are made to have that capacity too, but due to wind patterns they usually produce only 10% of that.

Besides being able to design cool stuff like wind or tidal turbines, or solar-power collectors, or any other creative ways to live sustainably, if you like DIY projects you’d easily be able to build something similar for your own home (hello, free electricity!). If you care about helping protect Earth while simultaneously protecting our species and solving problems, think about making greengineering your job.

And if it’s not your thing, applaud Oregon for being so awesome that we’re among the first states move towards tidal energy, one of Earth’s best sources of power.

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