In 2007, an enjoyable summer and fall pastime for me was sitting, newspaper in hand, on the bank of New York City’s East River in Brooklyn, looking out over the water and staring awestruck at the Manhattan cityscape. Never did I imagine that spinning somewhere in the water were hydroelectric turbines generating enough tidal energy to supply nearly a third of the power needed to run a parking garage and supermarket on Roosevelt Island. I found out about this project in a February 11 Wall Street Journal article entitled Nine Cities, Nine Ideas.
Mister Bloomberg helped jumpstart this “green” project on June 11, 2007 in an effort to move forward in his goal of cutting Gotham’s green-house-gas emissions by 30%. This goal is part of a larger list of goals outlined in PLANYC 2030, a most ambitious plan to change the city’s urban environment in some big ways.
At the helm of the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) project is Verdant Power Inc., a 2000 startup dedicated to global development of sustainable energy through their Kinetic Hydropower Systems. The five turbines with 16-foot rotors they introduced into the East River are only a small part of what could be a project that introduces hundreds more. The success of this endeavor is not contingent upon the efficacy of the hydro systems, which have already proven their worth, it’s on the ability of Verdant to plow through the mass of regulatory barriers. It took Verdant five years to get their turbines up and running because of the amount of state and federal permits required. City officials who have helped streamline the permitting process say as many as 300 turbines could eventually be installed and would generate enough renewable energy to power 8,000 homes and replace the equivalent of 68,000 barrels of oil.
Whether or not hundreds of turbines will have a negative effect on the current ecosystem is unknown, but according to the WSJ article, the blades don’t spin fast enough to hurt the fish. Tidal generated energy is clean, renewable, and seemingly harmless to underwater ecosystems and at this point I’m all in favor. If you know of any adverse effects of underwater turbines, please let me know.
Below is video on hydroelectric turbines and you can see a similar video on Verdant Power’s website.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/hR3joMykdRo" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
If you want to learn more about other proactive changes in cities around the globe check out this article on www.planetsave.com about plastic bags.
source: wsj article
photo sources: turbine, NYC