Ocean energy to electricity
Dr Craig Stevens, NIWA Wellington/University of Auckland/AWATEA
National Aquarium of New Zealand, Marine Parade, Napier
Dr Stevens discussed energy in the ocean and international efforts to convert some of it into electricity and how this has intertwined with the vagaries of international geopolitics over the past few decades.
Different technology options developed and tested over time in different parts of the world were presented. Examples included machines to capture wind, wave, tide and current energy. He noted that environmental impact understanding and public perception would make some current installations difficult to establish today.
Outlining oceanographic processes and showing how they vary around New Zealand, Dr Stevens identified areas of greater and lesser potential when considering these technologies for local power generation. Current technology is a viable option for off-grid sites where the eceomics are compared with diesel generation of electricity.
Dr Craig Stevens is a physical oceanographer with a focus on environmental fluid mechanics in extreme environments. He holds a joint position at NIWA and the University of Auckland. His use of observational techniques takes him to a variety of locations ranging from Antarctica to Cook Strait.
His work is mainly about turbulence, stratification and waves – and how entities react/behave/exist in such fluid environments. From the energy perspective he has looked at how to optimally locate tidal turbines so that they extract energy effectively, whilst minimizing environmental degradation.