The Oil Drum just posted a great article about the “evolution” of tidal generators and the rise of biomimicry in general. Essentially by mimicking the design of plants and sea-swelling creatures that have adapted to an underwater environment for millions of years, we are able to build systems and devices that are more likely to achieve peak efficiency…or at least go a long way towards it.
From the article:
In my post on ocean energy a few months ago I briefly mentioned a scheme by a small Australian company called BioPower to trial some tidal power and wave power technologies in Bass Strait that used “biomimicry” based design principles.
The project is due to go live next year, with 2 prototype units being deployed - the wave power system will be off King Island and the tidal power one off Flinders Island. Each unit can produce up to 250 kilowatts. The $10.3 million system is half funded by the Australian Government and the electricity generated will be used by Hydro Tasmania. BioPower CEO Tim Finnigan says the locations were chosen because Tasmania “offers a world-class wave climate on the west coast and a fantastic tidal environment on the eastern side”.
The field of biomimicry (also called “biomimetics” and “bionics”) is a new one that has gathered an increasing amount of attention in recent years, with advocates promoting these types of designs as being efficient ways to harness natural resources and to use them in a sustainable way. In this post I’ll look at the history of the science (apparently you can get a degree in it now) and at a range of examples where it is being applied.