I have another cool method of generating energy. There are researchers who are trying to harvest energy from various sources that are now working with a power generator that works in slow moving currents where traditional turbines have not worked effectively. This means that tidal streams and slow moving rivers in the US could generate something like 140 BILLION killowatt-hours per year or about 3.5% of our entire electricity demand. This is all according to the EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute).

In the past, most efforts to tap energy from slow moving current have used underwater windmills that use the force of the lift to turn their blades. This is because we have usually tapped air for energy and use it support boats and other water devices. But when you watch the way fish use water to propel themselves, you realize that they create vortices in the water that allow them to push off and propel themselves forward. This is why they are currently referring to this application as fish as fuel. But it has nothing to do with using actual fish as a source of fuel. Nobody is grinding up fish and putting it in an engine somewhere.

When researchers realized that these natural vortices could be used to drive generators, a new concept for creating energy emerged. A group of researchers have now created a machine called the VIVACE (Vortex Induced Vibrations for Aquatic Clean Energy) and yes I know it sounds sort of funky and even kinda geeky. But the cylinders in this new machine oscillate up and down in actual moving water. This is a first. It is especially exciting because the device works naturally in the marine environment and is non invasive.

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Ethiopia has signed a 220-million-euro (=300 million dollar) deal with a French company for the construction of Africa’s largest wind farm. This contract was signed by representatives of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPC) in agreement with the French wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet.

This ambitious farm is expected to produce 120 megawatts within two and half years, making it the largest project of it’s kind on the continent. This is a forward thinking project for the country as it faces great troubles from energy dependency and the effects of global warming. Ethiopia has been hit time and again by droughts, devastating the peoples of their country as well as crippling its electricity production, which is currently heavily reliant on hydroelectric dams.

“This is a very strategic project for us. The first (largest) in Africa for wind energy production with 120 megawatts, that is to say 15 percent of our present capacity,” EEPC chairman Meheret Debebe said. “This project will help us to fill the gap of hydrological risks we are facing in Ethiopia with the droughts.”

Ethiopia is a landlocked country in the horn of Africa with no access to the ocean. It is also Africa’s second most populous country and has been experiencing severe drought coupled with frequent power cuts in recent months. Already a dry, demanding and harsh landscape, Ethiopia is early in the field of geographical areas suffering as a result of the effects of global warming. Drought is considered to be a side effect of the overall warming of the planet just as the melting of the Arctic is.

“This contract is a very important one because with a budget in excess of 200 million euros it will be the largest wind farm in Africa,” French Minister of State for Foreign Trade Anne-Marie Idrac said at the signing ceremony. “It is also very symbolic of France’s commitment to developing renewable energies,” she added. Bravo, France! And God bless the people of Africa.

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