The solution to California's crisis may have been lapping at the beach.
Turns out those surfer dudes (and dudettes) may have been riding on the wave of the future. The California Energy Commission recently awarded Dr. Asfaw Beyene, a mechanical engineering professor at San Diego State University, a $120,000 grant to study the feasibility of using ocean swells as a potential source of renewable energy.
And we thought gas-fired peakers were the way to go.
Believe it or not, sea wave energy has been on some people's radar screen for a long time. In fact, one of our friends, of the engineering persuasion, designed a sea wave energy project in high school for the Honeywell Science & Engineering Prize. It was device like a dam that at high tide trapped seawater, then as the tide receded, the water would go through turbines to convert the energy to electricity. Even though he didn't win, our engineering friend must have been ahead of his time.
According to Beyene, several hundred patents have been registered worldwide for capturing wave energy. Most of the research and development has been in Europe, funded by the largess of government. As one might imagine, the research so far has been mainly at universities, though some European companies and utilities have constructed prototypes.