Wind farms up here in the Pacific Northwest may soon be shut down temporarily because there is no transmission capacity to move this green renewable power to where it is needed. A record snowfall in the mountains at the headwaters of the Columbia river system is about to begin melting and will send a surge of water down the river. Because this water cannot be sent over the spill ways without endangering already endangered Salmon and Steelhead fish it needs to be run through the turbines. There is just too much power for the regional markets and the existing transmission infrastructure to handle and thus wind farms are likely to be idled. What this exposes is the need for an improved Ultra high voltage long distance electric transmission network that is capable of moving surplus power from one region to another.
Overtopping wave energy systems are one of the pathways being investigated to capture this potential renewable energy source. An interesting an innovative approach has been adopted by the Norwegian company Wave Energy, which is now doing a technical feasibility study for building such a system in Oregon’s famous and famously stormy Tillamook Bay. Waves form a potentially large world-wide energy resource, estimated at more than 2 Terawatts, but formidable technical challenges have long stood in the way of realizing this potential.
Are most homebuyers interested in purchasing a home that saves 90% over a traditional home on heating and cooling costs and requires only a small active heating system the size of a hairdryer? The Passivhaus movement is an exciting building design concept that offers tremendous energy savings due to reliance on passive heating systems. Europe is embracing the concept with between ten and fifteen thousand houses already built and governmental support of mandating the standard. The Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt was formed in 1996 to promote and control passive house design and the group only recently formed the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) to reach out directly to the US building market. It is slow to gain momentum, but holds promise for the US market in the future.