It’s one thing to dream about the immense power residing in our planet’s oceans. It’s quite another to put human ingenuity to work tapping into the ocean’s powers.
That was the backdrop of the International Marine Energies Technologies Course, held in mid-March in The Netherlands. Some of the best minds in marine energy technologies gave presentations covering intriguing innovations in the sector. PMI was the only U.S. company attending the course.
At PMI, we’re fascinated with the potential of marine energy. We supply cable hardware to companies that do business in the deep sea, including seismic exploration firms that tow massive cable arrays to hunt for petroleum deposits below the ocean floor. Since we’re experts in hardware that can survive treacherous undersea environments, we’re eager to contribute to initiatives that tap the energy of our oceans.
Europe has a huge head start on marine renewable energy technologies. Offshore wind farms are now mainstream technologies along the coasts of many European nations. With that technology well understood, European companies are starting to look at other ways to draw energy from the ocean.
The course covered four technologies:
- Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). This technology taps the massive amount of solar energy trapped at the surface of the ocean in the tropics. OTEC uses warm sea water to convert a liquid into steam that drives a turbine, producing electricity. After the steam passes through the turbine, it gets cooled by water pumped up from the ocean depths, condensing it back into fluid form to continue the cycle.
- Salinity gradient power. When fresh water bodies are near salt water bodies, there is a substantial energy potential that can be harvested. Through pressure retarded osmosis or reverse electrodialysis, electricity can be generated. Salinity gradient technologies are being developed in Norway and the Netherlands.
- Tidal power. The ebb and flow of ocean tides can generate substantial kinetic energy that can be converted into electricity by several kinds of technologies. Tidal energy depends on the velocities water moves. (See Massive Tides Invite Wave of Tidal Energy Research for more).
- Wave power. Where tidal relies on the velocity of water, wave power relies on the change in height of waves to harvest energy. (See Scotland’s Sunken Wave Turbines for more).
Each marine energies technology has pros and cons. While all can produce energy without the use of fossil fuels, they also face substantial challenges because of the chaotic and corrosive nature of oceans. Furthermore, they require substantial financial investments and must offer some hope of providing a return to investors.
Moreover, any devices placed in the ocean are entering an active ecosystem that must be protected. The sessions of the International Marine Energies Technologies Course addressed these challenges. The people attending included engineers, researchers and representatives of companies venturing into the emerging ocean-energy field.
So what was PMI doing in Holland for three days? Well, we supply cable hardware to companies that do business in the deep sea, including seismic exploration firms that tow massive cable arrays to hunt for petroleum deposits below the ocean floor. It’s a great business to be in, but we also recognize the necessity to tap into renewable energy sources in the years to come.
Since we’re experts in hardware that can survive treacherous undersea environments, we’re eager to contribute to initiatives that tap the energy of our oceans. Ocean energy technologies are barely off the drawing boards in the United States, but our European colleagues are getting devices in the water and starting to generate energy.
And that’s getting us energized about the power of our oceans.
Want more information about our experience at International Marine Energies Technology Course? Schedule to speak to a representative.
We have previously discussed the various ways subsea cables can be damaged underwater (Link: https://pmiind.com/damage-to-subsea-cables-a-huge-risk-to-offshore-wind-farms/), but how are these cables fixed? The answer lies on a ship like the Pierre de Fermat, a ship specially designed for undersea cable repairs. Once the break location is identified, the ship launches a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to retrieve the cable and return it to the ship.
The repairing process of a cable isn’t the simplest process, as we’ve explained in our blog post “When it comes to subsea cable repair, time is of the essence”. As the cable is being repaired, cables and equipment are vulnerable to damage by other vessels and fishing gear. It’s a delicate feat that requires speed and precise navigation in some of the most extreme ocean environments. Because of this, subsea cable hardware should provide secure, fast assembly. Once the cable is repaired, the ROV returns to the sea floor and attaches the newly repaired piece of cable to the existing subsea cable network and uses high pressure water jets to bury the cable.
To read more about the fascinating process of repairing subsea cables, check out the article “This Giant Robot Fixes Undersea Broadband Cables“.
PMI’s proven, high quality subsea hardware is the ideal solution increase subsea cable performance, assist in cable reparation, and in ROV and ship attachments. Call us today to chat about how our solutions can help your subsea cable problems.
The ocean is a big place. The equipment and tools we build for working in the subsea is pretty big too. And apparently there’s room to continue to grow – because projects like the massive Delta Stream Turbine by Tidal Energy are going to prove how big things are going to get. They built one the world’s first demonstration devices connected to the grid to generate green, renewable and predictable tidal power in an attempt to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions.
It weighs 150 tons, has a 52ft by 66ft frame, and each turbine has a 49ft diameter rotor which is connected to a generator to produce electricity both the ebb and flood tides.
Watch how it works:
Read our thoughts on the wave and tidal industry here.
Read more about Tidal Energy’s project here.
Equipping ROVs is a growing industry for us, so it’s exciting to read about America’s very first Bachelor of Science in Maritime Technology program, offered by Northwestern Michigan College, and their special Falcon ROV. The Falcon is the most widely used ROV in the industry and students are most likely to come across in their working life.
We’re thrilled to learn that this program is basically in our backyard, in Lake Michigan, and that it allows students to fit and study an array of sophisticated equipment.
The aim of the BSc program is for students to become proficient in applied technology for the marine industry onshore and offshore.
Their studies cover the calibration, deployment, operation, maintenance and management of marine technology assets, including data collection, processing and mapping. Read more…
As we find our products being used more and more for shipwreck explorations, we were really excited to read about this one nearly in our backyard in Lake Michigan and learning that there are many more to discover.
The bottom of Lake Michigan is literally a graveyard of shipwrecks. Local maritime historians say 1,200 of the 2,000 sunken vessels in Lake Michigan no longer exist because they hit shore and broke apart.
Experts add that about 360 wrecks have been found in the lake’s deeper water, but there are still many wrecks out there that remain undiscovered. Read more…