Small Islands Voice Global Forum
Can tidal currents supply future energy needs?
In this week's article contributors focus on reducing energy consumption and supplying future energy needs through renewable sources such as solar panels and tidal currents.
Father Api from Fiji (Pacific) writes: Thank you for telling us what is going on in your countries in regards to the use of alternative fuels. In Fiji, and in places like Labasa where I work as a church minister, it's sad to see the prices of goods continue to rise. The main cause is the high cost of fuel. I am not sure about the position of our Government in relation to what other countries are now trying with local fuel sources, but I am all for it. Poverty increases also because of high fuel costs. My suggestion would be to request various governments to work together at different levels to try and develop new fuels for nations like ours. Governments could put aside funds for research and technical assistance. We just cannot go along with big, well financed nations on this issue. If we start now our children will benefit and we could help our communities reduce poverty and other problems.
Hari Baral, takes up this idea: Some writers to this forum are pointing their fingers to government to take responsibility for policy development regarding the use of non-fossil fuel for energy demand. But should not the users play a more responsible role by reducing energy use by using their cars less often, turning off household electric gadgets when not in use, etc. Unless we can develop a balanced two-way policy of reducing our excessive energy consumption and adopting clean, renewable energy, we will never have a sustainable energy policy.
Peter Jacobs from St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Caribbean) writes: Renewable energy is not an easy option for small islands. In St. Vincent, the use of wind is a possibility, but the cost of windmill replacement after a hurricane might outweigh the savings on oil; unless a windmill could be designed that would fold down in times of hurricanes. We do not have sufficiently large rivers for hydroelectricity. The continuing development of an island requires energy and the only source we have in abundance is sunlight. The cost of harnessing solar is expensive but might just be the way of the future for small developing islands, as the panels can be taken down before a storm or hurricane.
Taking up the renewable energy theme further, Thomas Goreau writes: Most island nations have huge completely untapped energy resources in their tidal currents and this can be used cost-effectively on scales from very small to very large, using new simple technology to turn tidal and ocean currents into electrical currents. This is not wave energy, it is tidal energy that is so predictable that you can practically adjust your watch to it. And it is clean non-polluting energy that can be tapped affordably wherever peak currents reach more than 4 knots. At this year's United Nations (UN) Commission on Sustainable Development we made a presentation to try to get funding for island nations to start developing their vast unused tidal energy resources and we will keep pushing this proposal next year. We have found great interest in developing such projects on the part of the UN Ambassadors from Fiji, Tuvalu, Palau, Maldives, and the Marshall Islands, among others. We are looking for funding to start the first projects early next year, but the problem is that tidal energy is not on the list of sustainable energy technologies the UN agencies, Global Environment Facility, etc. are mandated to fund, even though for islanders it is our best hope for large amounts of affordable clean power.
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