TED Conversations

Noel Laporte

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What form of renewable energy has or will have the lowest impact on biodiversity?

Climate change, air pollution, rising sea levels and species extinction can all be attributed to the increasing usage of non-renewable energy in the world today. Non-renewable energy reserves are diminishing and finite with an ever-increasing demand from countries around the world. Coal, natural gas and oil all have detrimental effects on the environment. These effects are both local and global, harming species throughout the world. As we consider different renewable forms of energy, can we rank their potential impacts on biodiversity?


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    Apr 24 2013: Has anyone heard of the "energy producing bridge" anticipated to be built in the Strait of Juan de Fuca? It's a hybrid bridge that produces energy from wind, waves, and ocean currents.

    Apparently it could produce an output of 14,000 MW, a large fraction of the region's energy (this is a very conservative estimate). An effective marine mammal protection system would need to be built! But, this is not impossible.

    Do note that the total mass of this structure is 1000 Tons. So, that is 1000 Tons per MW for tidal generation, compared to 100 Tons per MW for wind generation-- a very significant difference.

    Here is a video (equip with entertaining tunes!) that can give you an idea of what this thing looks like and how it works:

    I don't know much else about the bridge and would be happy to hear if anyone has heard more or has an opinion...
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      Apr 24 2013: Very interesting! I'm really liking the innovation of energy harvesting with civil engineering. I hope that future civil development will have more buildings incorporating energy harvesting into building design.
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      Apr 24 2013: This is such a cool idea! It makes me think back to Jessica's talk about the built environment. It would be cool to use the buildings and spaces we already have to explore solar and wind power. The one thing I worry about the bridge concept is, what would happened to the marine ecosystem that is surrounding the bridge? Would this change the currents that are needed for proper fish migration for mating and seasonal changing. My guess is no, that the power would not be to that level but still it's something to think about.

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