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Subject: C5f) Why don't you harness the energy of tropical cyclones?

Contributed by Neal Dorst (HRD)

If someone can figure out a way to harness that energy, the more power to them. They could earn millions of dollars and the gratitude of everyone on the shore. Every dyne of energy harvested would be one less dyne blowing over trees.

The biggest technical impediment is that a hurricane's energy is low grade. It's abundant, but it's spread over a tremendous area. For energy to be high grade it should be concentrated, making it easy to gather and use. You would need a field of wind turbines covering dozens of square miles in order for it to be profitable. And it would have to be mobile, so you could intercept landfalling storms, or chase those that change direction. Of course, you have to expend energy to move them around, so you run the risk of losing money on the operation. The same is true of wave turbines plus you would need to find a way of anchoring them securely without compromising mobility.

It would be a daunting technical task, plus you have to worry about your turbines being robust enough to sustain damage from windblown debris and be able to transmit the energy gathered quickly. So after you draw up your engineering specs, you'd better have an investor or two, because it will cost you a great deal of money to build so many of these reinforced, mobile turbine units even before you collect you first erg.

Created May 24, 2007

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