November 25, 2015

...AND CHEAPER...:

River turbines turn Austria's Danube from blue to green (Philippe Schwab, 11/25/15, AFP)

The idea is to place in the river what looks on the surface like the top of a submarine but is in fact a six-tonne buoy producing enough electricity for 250 people.

Below the waves is a turbine turned by the fast-flowing waters -- more brown than the blue of Strauss's famous waltz -- of the Danube, one of Europe's main waterways. [...]

In time, the aim is for all the 30,000 inhabitants of the UNESCO-protected valley, its steep slopes covered in vineyards and dotted with centuries-old castles, to get their power in this way.

Mankind has long harnessed the awesome kinetic energy of rivers, most notably with hydroelectric power, the first plant being built at Niagara Falls in the United States back in 1879.

But even though the technology produces no climate-changing greenhouse gases -- which the Paris climate talks aim to reduce -- building the vast dams necessary nowadays is politically tricky, particularly in Europe.

"Forty years ago we successfully fought against a hydroelectric dam here," said Christian Thiery, owner of a Wachau hotel and restaurant at Durnstein, where English king Richard the Lionheart was famously imprisoned in the 12th century.

"Thank goodness we did, because we live off tourism now," he says. He has already ordered one of Aqua Libre's buoys to power his 100-bed hotel.

And apart from being unobtrusive, a key selling point of this new technology, its proponents say, is that it is the only source of renewable energy that works 24 hours a day and without the need for heavy infrastructure.

Posted by at November 25, 2015 1:52 PM

  

« IT'S A TRADE DEAL: | Main | IF ONLY HE WERE: »