Reading some of my earlier posts, you’d think that sustainability was all doom and gloom: runaway climate change, the sixth and near term extinction. Well, this Gregorian calendar New Year ( as opposed to Eearth New Year on 16 July) I am going to make a distinctive effort to keep it cheery, irrespective of the truth.
And what could be more cheery than a trip to the coast where the US government has committed to spend $40 million on a test-bed for offshore renewable energy technology including wind and wave.
I am very partial to marine energy because I like renewables, and I like the ocean. Apart from anything else, marine renewables promise more jobs on boats, and who doesn’t think that’s a good thing? Furthermore, marine renewable energy falls under two types of Blue Economy; a marine based economy, and the other that describes economies that work with nature.
Another big plus of marine renewables is that they can be located away from residences, thus doing away with a lot of NIMBY.
Offshore renewables also provide habitat for marine species, creating a rare synergy between the demands of humans and the needs of nature. The seal, shown above fitted with a radio tracker, is suggestive of the marine science that is acquired in the planning process.
These themes are discussed in my fiction novel, AQUARIA – an adventure story that highlights marine sustainability issues. In the story, Lucy Callahan, CEO of Aquaria, a popular public aquarium and marine science precinct, goes to war with Tex Drillerson of Expedient Energy, who wants to drill for oil in her marine park.
The battlelines are drawn when the oil firm destroys the 10 Megawatt vertical axis wind turbine – the VAWT – that powers the aquarium facility. Diving into battle (both literally and metaphorically) Callahan finds enemies near and far, and surprising allies, including some sealions and a handsome man in a helicopter.
The purpose of my sustainability themed novels (of which there are now seven) is to help normalize conversations about sustainability. These books are my humble contribution to making Western culture sustainable – or at least, less unsustainable.
Another key benefit of marine renewables, besides the Blue Economy jobs and synergy with wildlife, is that there is an abundance of energy in and above the sea. With the right technology, marine renewable power can be inexpensive. Winds are stronger at sea than on land. Plus, wave strength can be predicted days in advance, allowing for power supply in the network to be planned in advance.
Predictable, sustainable and in-sync-with-nature (sigh!). These are three things that we are unlikely to see in the United States for the next four years, because you-know-who got into the White House.
We can only hope that the offshore energy park gets up before it gets trumpfted and goes the way of Lucy Callahan’s VAWT.